Career and Job Search Guide

Bus Driver

Bus drivers operate buses that transport people to their desired destinations. Bus drivers are classified as either intercity or transit or school bus drivers. Intercity and transit drivers drive inside cities or between states. School bus drivers transport students between their homes and school.

Bus drivers follow schedules and usually stop at predetermined locations, and they frequently drive in congested traffic, so they must be very defensive and safe drivers. Drivers must not get behind or ahead their schedules since passengers rely on these schedules. Drivers operate a variety of buses from those that carry 15 people to those that seat more than 100 people.

Transit and intercity drivers often prepare written reports after they have completed their shifts. At some bus companies, maintenance divisions repair buses and perform preventative maintenance; however, some companies require drivers to monitor their buses for problems. Drivers must also ensure that fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and other safety equipment is onboard the bus.

Intercity drivers announce stops, collect payment for fares, and answer customers' questions. They also usually make only one trip to distance cities daily. Sometimes they stop at cities separated by a few miles or only make stops at bigger cities, which in some cases, are separated by hundreds of miles. Local busses usually stop at predetermined stops only separated by a few blocks daily.

Local drivers also prepare reports documenting reasons for delays, engine problems, and other problems. When driving across state borders, intercity bus drivers must follow all U.S. Department of Transportation laws.

Certain intercity drivers operate charted buses, and those that drive buses on tours may also work as tour guides, providing tourists with information about the area they are visiting. They must stay on schedule and visit all the destinations assigned on the tour while making the experience enjoyable and safe for tourists. Tours usually take multiple days to complete, so drivers are sometimes away from their homes for weeks at a time.

School bus drivers usually follow the same routes every day, and often transport students and teachers to field trips or extracurricular activities. Many drivers work part time since they have other jobs at the school.

Bus drivers must constantly be aware of their surroundings to prevent accidents that can occur in harsh weather or congested traffic. Those driving school buses must be very careful when children enter and exit the bus. They are also responsible for enforcing bus rules and keeping order on the bus. Drivers are also responsible to help students with physical disabilities board and exit the bus.

School bus drivers either park their buses in front of their personal residences or a parking garage. They do not receive fare money from students, but they are responsible for writing reports documenting how many students rode the bus, miles traveled, and the amount of gas used during the week. Their schedules and routes are usually determined by their supervisors.

Work environment. Being a bus driver can be stressful since they must follow strict schedules and drive in congested traffic. A lot of bus drivers like the fact that they do not spend all day under the direct supervision of a manager. To make busses more comfortable, more buses are now equipped with seats designed to be ergonomically friendly and GPS systems.

The schedules bus drivers work depend on the type of bus services they provide. Intercity bus drivers often work evenings, weekends, and holidays and sometimes stay overnight at hotels paid for by their companies. Drivers with seniority usually determine their own schedules while other bus drivers must work when they are assigned. Drivers who drive charter and travel buses usually only work seasonally. During summer months, bus drivers might usually work a lot, but during the winter months, drivers without a lot of seniority may only work during the holidays.

Those who drive school buses work during the months students attend school, and when working, they usually work part time hours. They may work extra hours if they transport students and teachers to a field trip or extra-curricular activities.

Drivers who operate local transit buses usually work 5 day weeks, which can include the weekend. Since routes run all day long, certain drivers work nights which can extend past midnight. Many drivers work split shifts, which include a morning shift and an afternoon to early evening shift since these are peak travel times.

Those who drive charter and tour busses can work any shift which can include nights and holidays since their hours are determined by their clients. However, they must follow all of the U.S. Department of Transportation's regulations concerning the amount of hours drivers can be on the road since after 15 hours of work, drivers must take at least 8 hours off. Bus drivers are only permitted to drive for 60 hours during a 7 day period, and they must keep a written record of all the hours they drive.