More than 2,000 of Baku’s drivers will benefit from intensive training sessions ahead of this year’s inaugural European Games.
A new fleet of coaches, minibuses and sedans will transport athletes, officials and national delegation members during the Games.
The Baku 2015 European Games Operations Committee, together with the Azerbaijani Ministry of Transportation and Baku Bus Company, the government agency responsible for upgrading the city’s bus network, is working to ensure that drivers have the skills they need to operate safely and efficiently.
A total of 2,100 participants, including 800 coach drivers, will complete a three-part course over the coming months, covering theory classes, a practical introduction to the new vehicles, and Baku 2015 Games route and venue familiarisation. It is estimated that drivers will have a total of 15 days of specialised training before beginning work on official routes during the Games.
Mr Simon Clegg, Chief Operating Officer of Baku 2015, said: “Training the city’s drivers will help a smooth functioning of transport services during the European Games, as well as making a lasting improvement in people’s day-to-day lives.”
Many of Baku’s professional drivers are highly experienced and have worked during major events such as the Eurovision Song Contest in recent years.
Mr Panos Protopsaltis, Director of Transport at Baku 2015, said: “This initiative is the biggest driver training programme in the history of major sporting events, and is part of Baku 2015’s commitment to leaving a human and physical legacy to Baku and Azerbaijan in transport terms.
“The new training centre, built to the highest international standards, will foster awareness of safety and best practices on Baku’s roads.”
The training course is an opportunity for the drivers to perfect their skills and become equipped to play an important role in operations during the European Games. It will also form the basis of a Centre of Excellence for professional drivers in Azerbaijan.
Baku bus driver Mr Mubariz Ibrahimov, who has just started the course, said: “I have experience of working at large events such as the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, and this training will help me get used to the new vehicles and learn skills which will be useful during and after the European Games”.