Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bombs, Babies, Books and Bags – things I’ve learned from talking with bus drivers

I plan to just keep adding to this post as I continue to learn more.  So far I’ve befriended several bus drivers who are slowly divulging the secrets of their profession.  Maybe they aren’t secrets, but they are the most interesting parts of my conversations with them so far.  In random order:

They aren’t supposed to get into fare disputes – as part of their training they tell them that they shouldn’t confront riders over the fare they paid.  Basically a rider can put in whatever change they have and the bus driver will begrudgingly have to let you ride the bus.

You really can take just about anything on the bus – this includes dogs, cats, chickens, swords, strollers, etc.  I asked about firearms and the answer was it’s fine as long as you are licensed to carry.  Interestingly enough a driver is not allowed to pack heat.  Gasoline, gas powered vehicles and fireworks seem to be about the only things not ok.

A bus can’t radio another bus – They have a little telephone up front but it only calls the dispatch center.  So the bus drivers use hand signals to communicate on the road.

Training to become a driver takes ~ 1 month - It’s mostly classroom training but they do have “playground” where they practice.

Bus drivers drive a route for 4 months – then they get assigned new routes.  With seniority comes the right to request certain routes.  The ones with the best views are the most prized.  Basically it’s just like how corporate folks jockey for window offices.  I should add that every driver I’ve talked to love their job.

Bombs, babies, books and bags – when the route ends and the bus turns around the driver has to walk the bus.  I don’t know if they teach them that little alliterative phrase in training but that’s what they walk the bus looking for.  I have to assume they’ve found one of each before or they wouldn’t have the phrase!

Feel free to leave comments with any other fun facts.  I’d also love to hear what the craziest thing you’ve taken or seen taken on the bus is.

1 comment:

  1. Route swapping can cause some complications... I was on a 49 recently where the driver spaced and missed the turn. Driver had been doing 43 previously, and they take the same route right up to a certain turn. Both are on trolley wires so it's not easy to rejoin the route!