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'A,B,C' (All Been Changed) on the buses!

Updated on November 14, 2017
lawrence01 profile image

Everyone has to have a 'day job' right? I'm fortunate in that not only do I enjoy my 'day job' it also 'feeds the imagination'

Changes, they sneak up on you, just like a bus!

A new ride!
A new ride!

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.

"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

Anyone seen a bus roof recently?
Anyone seen a bus roof recently? | Source

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?"

"Morning, What???"

"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.

My first day on the new contract.
My first day on the new contract.

New jobs

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.


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    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      12 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      I'm so glad those old buses didn't have 'onboard cameras', then again, it would probably have made YouTube!!

      They never did find the canopy, it was blown clear across the bridge, and dropped about a hundred feet into a fast moving river, though we reckon someone downstream made it into a great little boat!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      12 months ago from United Kingdom

      I would love to have seen the expression on your face when you realized you were topless. :D

      So, did they ever find that roof?

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      13 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      I've no idea if they were, I couldn't understand a word of what they were saying!

      As for the 'captain's chair' I still get at least a day a week driving, and might need to get my 'class 4' which will allow me to drive the bigger buses (upto forty tons) which would be fun.

      Glad you enjoyed the hub.


    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      13 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Thank you, so far there's three or four hubs I've written on the subject, and I really enjoyed writing them, who knows, maybe one day I'll have enough material for one!

      Thank you for the visit, and positive comments.


    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      13 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      One of the neatest comments I've heard was a friend of mine, just after I'd told her we were handing her route over to another company to run.

      "You mean were losing the nice, cheerful drivers, and getting sourpuss grumpy ones in return?"

      There were quite a few complaints over that change!

      You're right though, a lot is down to the drivers attitude, I've often had grumpy people get on the bus, only to have them apologize for their attitude when they get off, that is AWESOME!

      Thanks for the visit.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I have such a low-tolerance for rudeness that I'm afraid one rude rider would ruin it for me and set my temper loose. I am so happy you enjoy that job; I suspect it has a great deal to do with your personality and patience.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      13 months ago from Washington State, USA

      This was an absolutely delightful read. You really should write that book. Thanks for sharing, and it's good to hear from you again.

    • Paladin_ profile image


      13 months ago from Michigan, USA

      Good grief! Losing the top off a bus while driving sounds like a real eye-opener! I'm glad to hear the passengers didn't get too freaked out. ;-)

      Congratulations on your new job! It sounds like a promising career move, and I've no doubt you've earned it. Still, it reminds me of that quote from "Star Trek: Generations" where Kirk advises Picard to "never let them promote you out of the Captain's chair." I bet you'll miss all the interactions and adventures you've had with your passengers.

      In any case, good to hear from you again! :-)


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