Working as a Bus Driver
For many young people, learning to drive is a symbol of freedom. When they learn that skill, they no longer have to depend on parents or other adults to take them to parties or pick them up from lessons and special events. Many people enjoy driving their own cars or trucks, and these vehicles can make it very easy to get around in the city or out to the country. For some people, however, driving is more than just a way to get from one place to another. For bus drivers, being on the road can be a career.
Almost anyone can be a driver, even just for a few minutes. Have you ever been behind the wheel of a bumper car at a fair or maybe a tractor on a farm? People drive small and large vehicles, including riding lawnmowers, motorcycles, bicycles and regular cars. However, driving a bus is somewhat different. Whether people want to drive a school bus, a transit bus or a long-distance bus going from one part of the country to the other, they all need to learn the special requirements of bus driving. Learning and following the rules of the road is the most basic requirement for all drivers, whatever type of vehicle they use. They have to know when to use their signal lights, how to make turns properly, and when they can pass a slow-moving vehicle. Many of these basic rules are the same for bus drivers as for others on the road.
Learning to drive a bus, however, takes some special skills. Drivers have to learn how to handle vehicles that are much larger than most of the cars and trucks on the road and to deal with bad weather conditions such as snow and rain. They have to be able to manage special features of each bus, such as braking systems which are very different from what they know with cars. Physical strength to endure long hours behind the wheel and the ability to concentrate on the dangers of the road are important characteristics of bus drivers. An ability to stay calm in difficult situations and a friendly attitude to passengers are also important qualities.
How do people become bus drivers? The first step is to learn how to drive an ordinary vehicle like a car. However, most people need special training in whatever type of bus driving they want to do. Long-distance bus companies like Greyhound have training programs that combine theory and practice in a six-week course. School bus companies like First Student Canada have short, intensive courses or longer ones that last several weeks. Drivers learn safe driving, how to handle the vehicles they will be using, basic repair, and how to deal with people.
Salaries for bus drivers can vary a lot, depending on where they live and what they do. Some drivers get minimum wage, but experienced drivers can get twice as much as that. You might never become rich as a bus driver, but you can have a rewarding career.