'A,B,C' (All Been Changed) on the buses!
Changes, they sneak up on you, just like a bus!
A bit of a shock really!
The other day I had a nice little note from Hub pages, one of the articles that I wrote about life as a bus driver here in Hamilton finally made it onto the 'letterpile' site!
A really nice surprise really, as I tried getting it on there in the beginning, but they didn't want it at the time, however they want it now, and it's really nice of them to come back for it, but it also provided me with a bit of a shock.
See, when I looked at the article, I realized it was two years ago that I last wrote anything along those lines, I'd been thinking about writing another article about 'life on the buses' but not really gotten round to it yet.
Anyway, without wasting any more time, here it is, and boy have there been some changes.
Here it is
- A Bus Driver's World, and How to Change It!
Ever wanted to change the world? I know I always have, I've always wanted to 'make a difference' and change the world for the better. Maybe here I'll share a little on how you can change yours.
"You should write a book, call it the adventures of a bus driver!"
Yes, I was told that by a passenger recently, and she had no idea that I'd already written some about the job, as well as the two novels!
It happened on one of the runs we used to do, the 'run' got extended to take in a retirement village and a new development, what we weren't told at the time (us drivers, that is!) was the new development was still being built, (okay, that we knew) and the 'tradies' would have their vans and pickups all over the place and the road was blocked.
After about five minutes of sounding my horn to get some attention (the gap was wide enough for a car, but a bus, at ten feet wide, forget it!) one of them came out to see what all the noise was about.
"Take your pick" I told him.
"What for?" he shouted back.
"I gotta get through here" I told him, "you left me no room, so which one do you want me to wreck?" I asked pointing to the two brand new pickups on either side of the road, they got the message!
By the way, I should point out that a bus doesn't have a rear view mirror, we can't see out the back of the vehicle, so technically it'a actually illegal for a bus to reverse on the street, because we can't see if anyone is behind us!
The old lady was with me in the bus and said she loved the way I'd put them 'in their place' as they'd been blocking her street for months and no one did anything about it, they never did it again!
They make it look so easy!
Life's 'Three constants'
They say there are only three constants in life, they're 'Death', Taxes and change.
The first two are either pretty morbid or depressing, and I want to write a 'positive' hub, so they'll only get a mention in passing, but the last one can be hilarious, if you take it with the right attitude that is! and I want to take a look at change as an amusing thing that's going to happen, and it's totally up to you whether it's good or bad!
Two years ago we knew that the city and regional council were planning and scoping out the new contracts for the bus routes. We knew they were looking at making the contract for the next nine years or so.
One of the changes was that none of the Buses on the routes could be more than ten years old, and that meant we had to say 'bye' to some of my favourite buses.
The 40 year old Mercs had to be 'retired', they were some of the most 'entertaining' in our fleet. I had some great stories happened in them.
An 'Old gal' gets a new life
Bus 'alterations' (compliments of the weather)
When I see this picture, it reminds me of the day I lost the roof of my bus!
Yep, this was the actual bus!
Let me explain, see the roof? Under that roof are the fuel tanks, they were powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). About two tons in weight, they made the buses slow 'on take-off', but once they got going, man they could move, the problem was, CNG's not that efficient and getting her started cold be a challenge, and where you'd turn an engine off to 'cool her down' in the summer, with these, the fuel was 'supercooled' at around minus 100 degrees celcius, you kept her running and the fuel would do the work for you!
Anyway, I was driving one Saturday, it was pretty awful weather, with strong winds and the like, I was heading across as bridge over the river (we've got six bridges) when there was an almighty bang.
O honestly thought a car had 'T' boned me, it was that loud, so I slammed the brakes on and got out, I couldn't see any damage, but a busload of passengers told me, (they were all Chinese and only one of the thirty or so spoke any English) but they were adamant that something had come off the roof!
I got out again, looked up and 'Oh Shit' How the hell do I explain the top of the damn bus missing?
I managed to, but a few weeks later one of my workmates had his wing mirror fall off as he got into the bus, and Ops went nuts, telling the drivers they "Need to check their buses properly"
Next morning I got into work and having read the 'memo' went in and asked for the following.
"Morning boss, Can I have a step ladder?"
"Can I get a step ladder?"
"What the hell do you want that for?"
"You said we need to check all the bolts on the buses, to make sure they're okay, you know, nice and tight!"
"Yeah, that's right, but what the hell do you want a step ladder for?"
"Well" I started to explain, "the top cover is only held on by eight bolts, and I lost one the other week, so I want to make sure the bloody thing is secure!"
The reply was unprintable, but suffice to say they did see the funny side, even if it took a few weeks!
And that was nothing to the time when I told them I was being surrounded by armed police! (The bus was backfiring! it got their attention, and I got my bus serviced) but sadly those buses are being 'retired'
Actually, they're getting Diesel engines put back in, and they'll be used for many more years as school buses all over the country.
Change, not a bad thing
But changes had to come, and with it we got a whole fleet of new Buses, and some changes to our jobs, mine in particular.
One change was that we got the contract for a 'new route' around the city called the 'Orbiter' (really original I know) that laps the city in just under an hour and a half (28 miles), but we had to give up a few routes on the western side to get it.
We got a fleet of brand new Volvo BR7s. Engine and chassis built in Germany, but the buses assembled in New Zealand, and they're really nice to drive, they're also cleaner to drive with very little fuel emissions.
Naturally there's mixed emotions from the drivers, some love the new buses, and some hate 'em but the passengers love them and that's the main thing right?
Take a look at the new bus.
As for me, I've been asked to take on a new role, working in the Ops room alongside the supervisors making sure that the buses run on time and efficiently, and yes, it's been a huge 'learning curve' the last few weeks, but 'change' is a constant and it's not always a bad thing.
It just takes some getting used to, and a good attitude.