How do I become a subway driver?

Munich (dpa / tmn) - Ride passengers safely and as punctually as possible from A to B: That is the job of Niko Bandura. The 21-year-old recently completed his training as a subway driver at the M√ľnchner Verkehrsgesellschaft (MVG).

He doesn't mind that he doesn't see daylight at work. On the contrary: "I concentrate on the track and think about announcements, preferably with pep," says Bandura. "Customers are also amused and laughing when they don't just hear the standard texts."

There are two ways to become a subway driver. One of them leads over a three-year apprenticeship to become a specialist in driving operations, "which in perspective not only covers the transport service on the subway, but also on buses and trams," explains Eike Arnold from the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) based in Berlin .

The other path is the one that Niko Bandura took: He's a career changer. The MVG trains him in a 14-week course in the company's own driving school to become a subway driver.

Learn to drive in the simulator

"The selection process is about finding out how responsible and service-oriented applicants are, for example," says MVG trainer Michael Spoerl. Anyone who works in the driving service must be absolutely reliable, have good communication skills and knowledge of German, as well as be willing to work shifts.

At MVG, the basic training for career changers lasts eleven weeks. The learner drivers do some of this on a simulator. This is followed by a three-week internship: Learner drivers sit with a training driver in the subway cockpit and control trains. Then they take the final exam. If the final driving test is satisfactory, working life as a subway driver begins.

React carefully in precarious situations

The training to become a specialist in driving operations is more extensive and also takes place in the vocational school. "The most important thing for applicants is their personality," says Arnold. A sense of responsibility and a friendly, customer-oriented demeanor are important. In tricky situations, such as a fight on the train or smoke, drivers must also act carefully and prudently. The first priority is the safety of the passengers.

The everyday life of bus, subway or tram drivers includes even more. "Before starting work, I check whether everything is technically working properly on the train I'm supposed to drive," says Niko Bandura. The drivers fix minor malfunctions themselves. In the event of serious defects, the train must be repaired.

Specialists also work in the office: there they organize the vehicle fleet and plan the deployment of staff or create timetables.

Training remuneration depends heavily on the employer

Local employers pay trainees a good 1000 euros a month, according to the Federal Employment Agency. In the private transport industry, the pay can be significantly lower. At MVG, the gross apprenticeship allowance for career changers is 2550 euros per month.

The industry is facing major challenges - it cannot be ruled out that one day subways will run automatically. But why the drivers do not become unemployed: "For controlling the vehicles and monitoring whether everything is running smoothly, qualified staff is still needed," says Spoerl.