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A day in the life of (A Bus driver)

Updated on September 2, 2017

How many of us?

Let's face it, how many of us have ended up doing the job we dreamed of as a Kid? Probably not many, and those who did possibly never imagined some of the things they've had to deal with in their 'dream job'

Okay I did end up being a soldier for a while, but that came to an end and I had to move on from there, I did some exciting stuff, but I never imagined that I'd end up in the job that I do at the moment and actually like it!

Actually the word 'like' is a bit too soft as I love the job!

Even I think it's a bit strange really as I never saw myself as someone who'd enjoy a 'normal nine to five job' but then again driving a bus isn't a 'normal' job! it takes a certain breed of person to like it.

What about it?

One of the buses I might be behind the wheel of!
One of the buses I might be behind the wheel of!

How it came about

I'll be honest, I never imagined that one day I'd be driving a bus and proud to say that I love it, but I do! and here's why.

I've had my heavy transport license for years. I got it the first time thirty years ago in the Army but bad experiences in the industry after leaving the forces meant that when it expired in 1987 I didn't bother renewing the license, a decision I later regretted.

Around 2007 I got the chance to get the license back and took it as I loved being 'on the road' I was working for a local based company so there wasn't any overnight work involved and things were good. For a few years I worked as a delivery driver for a Plumbing supplies outfit but then the big downturn happened and I ended up being made redundant!

With the license it took me a few days to find a job, but that was working nights at a factory, then a place came up in a stores for a place building Ambulances, I hated the job but the folks were good to work with so I got on with it and even made inquiries about being taken on full time (it was a six month placement) but it didn't work out and a few months later I found myself out of a job again. Then came Go Bus

I went for a presentation about the company and as soon as they found out I had my heavy transport license they let it be known they wanted me (after months struggling to find a decent job it's really good to feel wanted!)

I told them the only problem was that while I had the heavy truck license I didn't have the 'P' or passenger endorsement, their reply was "No problem, we'll help with that" and the next thing I knew they put me on a course they run to do the theory part (normally costs about $900 but they paid for everything) and a few weeks later I did the practical (which was just retaking my car license showing 'situational awareness' or reading the road ahead, you'll be amazed at how much car drivers miss until almost too late!).

As soon as that was done I was behind the wheel getting some experience driving the Buses!

Take a look

Some of the newer ones we use
Some of the newer ones we use

What a day! Let's start.

OK, I said this hub was 'a day in the life of a Bus driver' and my day starts pretty early.

My alarm goes off around 5am and I'm usually up and about by about 5.15. Feed the cats (who help to wake me anyway) and Dog, make sure my lunch is packed and breakfast, then out the door around 6 ish

We live about three miles from the Depot so I get my pushbike out and bike to work. I'm going to be sat around all day so I use fact we only have the one car to indulge in something I used to love as a teenager, riding my bike! Nothing too fancy, just a 21 speed Mountain bike that's great for getting to work on.

By the way, if you take to using the car for getting to and from work as a Bus driver expect to put about 20lb on in the first three months! With the bike I didn't!

In the summer it's really great as you get out in the cool morning air and even in the city you've got the scent of the flowers and plant life. You don't notice these things in the car, but just the smell from the flowers and trees as they come to life can be a real tonic (OK, if you get hayfever you might not appreciate it so much!). By the time I'm at work I'm ready for the day and ready for my coffee.

Usually signing on in the morning there's a few of us so some stories of what went on the day before are swapped and generally at least one of us tries to play a joke on one of the others.


Just what we do (even in our Depot!)

First part

By about 6.45 I'm in work and got my schedule for the day. The 'schedule' is my 'Bible' I have to stick to it no matter what as it's actually a legal document.

Most heavy transport is tracked either using a 'logbook' or nowadays using GPS to make sure the drivers are doing what they claim and making sure they take their breaks when they're supposed to. Urban buses are different in that you're never far from your base so you don't need the logbook but you do still need to take regular breaks and you need to keep on a set route. The schedule sets out the route for you and also gives you the timetable of when and where you need to be at any one time during the day.

The first morning runs you usually get the shift workers going to work and some of the schoolkids, I always try to greet the passengers with a cheerful "Hello" and "Thank you" when they get their tickets as well as a "See you later folks" as they get off the bus. Not everyone is a "Morning person" and sometimes you get the cheerful greeting back but other times the money might just be thrown at you with a grunt! They're not being rude, they just don't do mornings well!

One time I was doing the morning run and almost every stop I had to wait at the Bus stop for someone running up the road, Usually a grateful "thank you" can be heard!

As we were coming into town a passenger asked a question that I had to call our ops center for the information, The reply came back but as I took the call over the radio I missed the turning, so telling the passengers "Sorry folks, missed the turning so we've got a little diversion on!" I expected some unimpressed and grumpy passengers but this morning I heard laughing and one said "You gave us a break this morning, we'll give you one!" Within minutes we were back on route and everyone made work on time with a 'smile on their dial'

How safe are you around a bus?

Passengers

I tell folks "If you like people and driving the you'll make it as a Bus driver!" and it's true. In any one day I'll have about two hundred to two hundred and fifty people through my Bus. Most will be really good folks, but you'll also get the odd grump and sometimes even two on the same bus, then life can get interesting!

By the way the best method of dealing with them is to have a set of rules on your bus and don't waver for anyone! We have our council guidelines on all our buses but passengers on my bus know my rules and the regulars know that any breach and they just might be walking home!

I can have up to sixty people on a busy run, sometimes they'll be speaking up to half a dozen languages, some will be in wheelchairs and others will have prams, without rules chaos would ensue so we have rules and we stick to them, that way everyone can expect to treated with respect!

One time I was loading my passengers for my afternoon run, I had a nearly full bus when a lady came on the bus wanting to get the details of a passenger. I asked her what it was about and she said that he'd caused a fight on the platform and wanted to report him to the Police.

At that point I told the passenger to "Get off the bus" but he refused so I called security, he still refused to get off the bus at which point another passenger stuck his head in the door (he was a big guy) and spoke rather loudly "Oi I want to go home OFF THE @#$$#$@ BUS NOW!" I've never seen anyone run so fast! By the passenger who swore did apologize for using strong language!!!

Not all buses are the same

A old friend
A old friend

Breaks, time out!

When driving it's important to take time for a break. For bus drivers and truck drivers it's even more important.

Actually the bus above is one I used to have fun with as she was pretty old, and I would often tell the schoolkids who took her that they were on a vintage bus that was older than their Dad! (the eyes would go as wide as golf balls as 'nothing was that old' in their world! but she was forty years old and still going strong!).

Lunch comes around twelve (four or five hours) and we take an hour. This is the time when the funny stories of the day or the stories of near misses (we get a lot!) are swapped. It's our way of decompressing from being on the road.

Anything from going the wrong way (we drive three or four routes in a day and it's easy to get them mixed up, by the way the Company does get fined when we do it, but they're pretty good and as long as we can say what happened it's usually all good!

I spend a lot of time at work so once a week my wife will come down into town and we'll go for lunch somewhere so that we can catch up. We've got a few favorite places and if you ever get to Hamilton I'll let you know where to go.

In the afternoon my daughter is sometimes on the bus and I'll try and catch up with her on my second break so we can grab a hot chocolate or something.


Last part

The time of day everyone looks forward to, the last part of the shift! For me it usually starts around the time school gets out, that's when it's "All hands to the pumps" as we're dealing with getting the last part of the over 65s home (they get free concessions between 9 and 3pm but the ticket machines will let you print the tickets up to 3.10pm) and the schoolkids and for the next two hours most buses will be full.

I'm not talking all seats filled here, but usually about fifteen or twenty standing as well depending on what my loading certificate says!

Mine's timed so I start around 4pm though I do get some earlier shifts.

Actually while on the subject of kids I can tell at a glance from the way the kids behave what school the kids go to!

It might sound surprising but it's true, even on a 'Mufti day' (where the kids are out of uniform) you can tell and it's not according to wealth but the schools themselves!

Most of the schools in NZ have had to stop teaching religion in school, but we've got three secondary schools here that while they're in the state system they belong to church denominations and they refuse to follow that line, they are the kids that I don't have to ask to give up their seats when elderly or women with children get on the bus, they just do it, sometimes with amusing results as the adults are taken totally by surprise! Teaching moral principles is always good!

My day usually ends about 7.30pm when I get back to the yard, fuel up and cash up. Then it's a quick ride home to the family.

What's public transport like for you?

Have you used public transport?

See results

Just a brief outline

This is really just a little about my day and what I do. I spend about 65 hours a week at work so it's important that I actually 'like' what I do (That's one objection the wife had when I started, but at the time I was doing 70 hours a week working nights just to pay the bills!)

What about you?

Comments

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    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      22 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Robert

      It can be fun

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      22 months ago

      It is great that you have a job you love.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      24 months ago from USA

      This was a very interesting read that kept me reading from start to finish. Thank you for providing this insider view into the life of a bus driver!

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Graham

      It sure is! Thanks for the visit

      Lawrence

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 

      2 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Lawrence. great hub. A hard day but enjoyable as well. Well done. It's good to 'love' your job!

      Graham.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Peg

      Glaf you enjoyed the hub. One thibg you can be assured of with Bus driving is you'll never be bored! My trips are short ones (about a half hour) but no two trips are ever the same!

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      What an interesting perspective on the job you enjoy! It's great to know that there is advanced training in addition to the heavy transport license. My hubby has a commercial driver's license to haul big rigs which he did for about a year after a layoff in technology. I really enjoyed your description of the duties and responsibilities that are part of your daily schedule.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Mel

      65 hours a week isn't normal here either, but legally in the tramsport industry we can do up to 70 hours a week!

      Our problen is the company just can't get drivers! You need a Heavy Truck license and the Passenger endorsement which not many are willing to get.

      Having said that I really do love the job and my wife loves the fact that when I get home I'm not 'stressed out' and usually in a good mood having enjoyed what I do!

      I also think that the boss has realized that those of us who do these shifts are reliable and enjoy it (last year our supervisor tried to give me a shorter weekend shift thinking he was doing me a favor, he soon found out what I thought and I got my old shift back!

      Glad you enjoyed the hub

      Lawrence

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      2 years ago from San Diego California

      I never thought I would be a mailman either, but 22 years later here we are...

      What a grueling work week! Here full time is 40 hours a week, 8 hours a day, and anything over is overtime. Only in desperate circumstances would they let anyone work 65 hours a week.

      Lately I have been riding the bus, and I have to say you have the patience of Job. I really enjoyed this description of your daily activities. Great hub!

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Patricia

      It can get fun at times!

      Lawrence

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      2 years ago from sunny Florida

      So glad to hear that you have a job that you like so much...and no doubt your passengers are glad that you are on their route.

      Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Deb

      This is one we drivers have to be careful about. If I pick someone up without them paying and the boss finds out I can get the sack, but almost every driver we have has their 'regulars' and we have our ways round the rules that satisfies the company (wanting the fare) and helps those who might not have the money!

      I've had people come up and say "take two tickets as the driver this morning let me on with no money!" So good when people are honest like that!

      By the way when that happens I usually charge the one ticket and tell them not to worry about the other!

      Have a good weekend

      Lawrence

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      When I was working as a plumber at the university, I got to know one driver in particular. When he sees me walking on his route, even after three years has gone by, he picks me up and brings me to my present job. Couldn't ask for a better person!

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Lifegate

      I think when you enjoy what you do there comes a point when it stops being 'a job' and becomes something else!

      My mates and I were talking the other day at the fact that the two types of people whom 'joe public' tells everything to are the psychologist and the bus driver!

      Sometimes people just need a friendly word!

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Larry

      Having done the job you've got a bit of an 'inside track' on the job and some of the stuff talked about here. The thing I enjoy the most is the passengers and the fun you can have with them.

      Glad you enjoyed it

      Lawrence

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Lawrence,

      It was so refreshing to read about someone who actually enjoys their job. I'm right there with you. I'm not a bus driver, but I do enjoy working in the ministry. Thanks for sharing this personal side of you!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I've actually done a bit of bus driving myself. I really enjoyed this overview.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Sujaya

      Knowing what buses can be like in some parts of the world all I can say is the trip is never dull and can be a lot of fun!

      Glad you could visit

      Lawrence

    • sujaya venkatesh profile image

      sujaya venkatesh 

      2 years ago

      i am a bus freak

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Say Yes To Life

      Hamilton isn't as dangerous as some places, though I've had the odd fight break out on the bus (the last one was an assault right outside the courthouse!) and the odd weapon (firearms) but generally there are ways of minimizing the risk and the rewards of smiling faces far outweighs any risk!

      I'm glad the hub seems to have brought back some fond memories for you and extra sleep is always a good thing :-)

      Lawrence

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 

      2 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      I rode the bus a lot as a child, and for many years as an adult, when I didn't own a car. The bus drivers in Silicon Valley were very friendly, telling me stories about crazies who rode the bus, and a Casanova bus driver who would have affairs in the back seat!

      Bus service on the Big Island of Hawaii is limited, but until recently, it was free. Because of that, there were times I would ride the bus, even though I own a car. Commute distances are long here, so it also provided me an opportunity to get extra sleep.

      You're lucky you didn't have to drive in a dangerous place like Oakland, CA!

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Ghaelach

      Thankfully Hamilton isn't a big city! You're right that the job isn't for everyone, but I love it. Glad you liked the hub.

      Lawrence

    • profile image

      Ghaelach 

      2 years ago

      Hello lawrence.

      Spent 2 weeks holiday in London last month. It's a crazy city, I mean a crazy wonderful amazing city. One day we crossed London bridge and I counted 13 double decker busses in a row, that is one after the other. How the hell the city functions with all the busses and taxi, I just don't know. You have my respect lawrence. It's a job, that isn't suitable for everyone.

      Ghaelach

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Alan

      Having lived in London (only three months I'll grant) I agree using the 'tube' makes much more sense there! If I remember right it can get you within avout 200 yards of anywhere in central London (pretty impressive).

      We've got a few drivers here who used to drive the London buses, great guys and excellent drivers but understanding them is hard work (and I'm English!!).

      Over here for the over 65s we have a thing called the 'Gold card' which is a government scheme for discounts and gets them discounts at many places as well as free public transport at certain times (the times depend on the local councils).

      I often get folks who've never used a bus in their lives who get to 65 and decide to "give it a go." When they see how easy it is (and that the buses are actually clean with a driver speaking English) tge next comment is "Why didn't I do this years ago?"

      I always tell them to make sure they use it as they've been paying for it for years (its paid for from taxes). My bus can often be half full in the 'quiet hours' of the day!

      Glad you enjoyed the hub.

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Damien.

      Glad you enjoyed the hub. It was nice to write on a 'different' subject though when my wife saw the '9 to 5' comment she replied "YEAH RIGHT!"

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Nell

      Keep up the good work :-) Glad to hear that they're mostly 'on time' Actually you probably don't realize but there are usually financial penalties for public transport running late without informing why it's late!

      Over here if we're more than 8 minutes late without our ops centre emailing the regional council we get fined $150 NZ (£80 ish) so a few of them in a day can mount up!

      Glad you enjoyed the hub.

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Pheonix

      I got your message at about 11pm and with a few days off I was waiting for an item on the news (to see what NASA found on Mars).

      Bill

      Hamilton isn't like the big cities, it's a pretty friendly place where most people talk to each other, driving can be a bit 'white knuckle ride' at times as the drivers tend to think there's probably nothing coming so they don't always look! That second video gets the point across.

      Truth is driving the bus gives me times to think some articles through!

      Glad you liked it.

      Lawrence

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello Lawrence, I've used buses, Overground and Underground trains here. The buses are slow in London (lots of traffic lights, lots of stops, lots of passengers get on and off, and you could use the timetables to wipe your b'side. Some stops have an indicator that tells you when one's due (like on the Over- and Underground), but with most it's guesswork.

      I tend to use the trains to get about quicker, but on some routes a bus 'cuts the angle'. Unless there's roadworks. I could hear you groan there.

      With a 'Freedom Pass', issued to the over-60s you can use the buses (but not the trains) around the country with certain companies, and in London you can use the pass in the Rush Hour within the Zone areas (1-6 takes you from Inner London to around twenty miles out of town) if you're pressed. Younger folk have Oyster cards they pay into and use within their credit limit or they buy a Season Ticket.

      Being a bus driver in London can be nerve-racking, and we have drivers of Far Eastern Asian to Eastern European origin. They seem to take to the bedlam of London's Rush Hour. Most don't inter-act with the public though.

    • Damian10 profile image

      Damian 

      2 years ago from Naples

      Great stuff Lawrence ... God bless.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      2 years ago from England

      That's a fascinating look at your day to day job, an early start, too early for me! I do use the buses over here in England all the time. And most of the time they are, well, on time! lol!

      The route between my town and next is pretty boring, but from here to Reading it goes through some amazing countryside so its probably similar to yours over there, at least you would have a job if you came here! lol!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sorry I'm late. I had no idea you were a bus driver. You've got more courage and patience than I have. I'm happy you enjoy your job so much. That makes all the difference in the world, so hooray for you!!!!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow, that was quick. What time is it there?

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Phoenix 2327

      No two days are ever the same! In fact no two runs are ever the same which can prove interesting.

      Glad you enjoyed the hub.

      Lawrence

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      2 years ago from United Kingdom

      You're one of the lucky ones to be able to do something you love. Sounds pretty interesting so I guess you're rarely board. Good for you.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      John

      Glad you enjoyed the read. Not my usual hub I admit but it was enjoyable.

      Lawrence

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Lawrence, thank you for sharing one day as a bus driver. I was an interesting and enjoyable read. Very good hub.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Peachpurple

      Driving a bus can be fun, but there are a few hazards that most folks don't realize!

      By the way make sure you (all you folks,) watch the second video clip as it just might save your life!

      Lawrence

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 

      2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      wow, love your bus experience. My uncle used to drive a public bus until he had Hep B

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Anne

      It feels like it at times, but I've met some incredible people and many of my regulars I'd consider to be friends now!

      My 'oldest regular' is 98 and so active she puts most twenty year olds to shame.

      Glad you liked the hub.

      Lawrence

    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 

      2 years ago from Australia

      A long day and a long week for you! Thanks for sharing your story, bus drivers can make such a difference to your day. Sitting behind that wheel, you must see the whole world pass through your doors!

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