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How to Become a Subway or Streetcar Operator

Operators need a high school diploma or equivalent and several months of on-the-job training to enter the occupation.


Subway and streetcar operators typically need to have a high school diploma or equivalent.


Operators generally get 1 to 3 months of on-the-job training before they drive their own route. The transit agency provides this training. Following the training, operators must pass a test to ensure that they understand the applicable rules and regulations.

Work Experience

Some transit agencies prefer to hire subway and streetcar operators who have had at least 1 year of experience as a bus driver. For more information, see the profile on bus drivers.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Operators have to be able to communicate effectively with each other to avoid accidents and to keep the trains on schedule.

Customer-service skills. Streetcar drivers regularly interact with passengers and must be courteous and helpful.

Hand-eye coordination. These workers have to operate various controls while staying aware of their surroundings.

Hearing ability. Good hearing is important for operators. They must be able to hear automated warning signals. If they are operating a streetcar in mixed traffic, they must be able to hear other drivers.

Visual ability. Excellent vision is required to drive safely. Operators must watch for signal changes and obstructions.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition