A Day in the Life of a DATS Operator

What’s a typical day for a DATS operator in Edmonton? Well, you start your day off very early in the morning, as early as 5:30 A.M. Or you might be one of the DATS operators who start in the early afternoon, between 1:30 P.M. and 3:00 P.M., so you are going to work well into the evening. You’ll start your day at the garage, checking your bus and ensuring it’s ready to go. And off you go to pick up your first passenger.

As a DATS operator you’ll probably work an 8 to 10 hour shift, with some shifts working straight through, while others have a 1 to 2 hour break, so you’re in for a long day. You might not get the weekend off, as your days off might be in the middle of the week. DATS works 7 days a week, 365 days a year, so you might even be working on a statutory holiday.

DATS operators don’t have a fixed route or schedule, and don’t stop at bus stops or transit centres. The work varies from day to day You have an on-board computer system which provides you with your passenger information, maps and pick-up times. Your schedule is set by the number of disabled passengers who need to be picked up, where they have to go, and the places they need to go. The scheduling computer sets the best possible schedule and routing. Sometimes, circumstances can arise where you can’t meet the schedule (snow and construction are two examples). DATS dispatchers are constantly reviewing your run while you’re on the road, and assist in moving passengers and trips around to make sure everyone is picked up and delivered.

Being a DATS operator means you care. You are helping people whose best means of transportation is your service. And it’s a physically demanding job! A DATS operator helps passengers in wheelchairs to and from their destinations and ensures their wheelchairs are secure and tied down for their safety. You help people with walkers on and off the bus, and you assist all your passengers all the way from the driveway to their door, which can be pretty demanding in conditions of heavy snow and ice.

You might see our buses in your neighborhood, possibly on your street and maybe in your back alley. As a DATS operator, you need to know the city, because a DATS operator drives from one end to the other and everywhere in between.

During the course of the day, you could pick up and drop off between 20 to 45 passengers, depending on your shift, the length of the shift and your passengers’ destinations.

At the end of your day, you‘ll come back to the garage, refuel your bus, and sign it off. If you’ve had any difficulties during the day, you’re asked to write up a driver’s report so the problems can to corrected and resolved.

One of the City of Edmonton’s leadership principle is “I make a difference every day”. As a DATS operator, you certainly do!


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  1. Jackie
    4 years ago

    Just wondering why people have to wait so long to get picked up, or the route doubles back to your place, or you end up.too late to your destination? Or have these issues been fixed in the last few years? My Dad had all these happen to him, which is why i am not a big fan at present.

  2. Irmgard Teubert
    4 years ago

    this is a very good story of how the DATS works.
    These operators are so helpful and that is sometimes not so easy as I notice when I am a passenger. There is much involved and the operators are always friendly! Sometimes you wait a bit longer but most of the times they are close to the time they are asked for! Sometimes they drive you right home and sometimes you sit for a while ,enjoying the city, while you have to go on a cruise to accommodate other costomers to be picked up or delivered.
    I am very thankful for DATS, the way they help us people and the way they operate! Thank you, City of Edmonton, for providing this service!


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