4 Lies You’ve Been Told About Driving The Bus
In my time driving the bus I’ve seen a thing or two. I’m sure if I wrote all of it down, I’d have enough to write some sort of small book. Unfortunately, Transit has that sort of reputation. But here’s the thing—anytime you work with people stuff is bound to happen. I have stories, the waiter has stories, I’m sure pilots have stories and they work in a box with headphones on!
What am I saying though? If you have a job here on planet Earth, you will see some things that will cause you to raise an eyebrow or two. It’s not a matter of If, but when. But if I may have your attention for a little bit, I’d like to clarify some of the biggest myths associated with driving mass transit.
Myth One: The Passengers Are Confrontational
For starters, people are confrontational, and nearly every job on this planet is people-oriented. Passengers are no different than the people who throw hissy fits in Walmart. The reality is there are some people that just suck They live to make life difficult for others. They can’t be bought, reasoned, or bargained with. I saw a TikTok some time ago– this one guy was working out, and some lady filmed him working out, saying that he was filming her working out and all this other nonsense. None of this has anything to do with driving a bus. I’m just clarifying the culture we live in. People as a whole are weird right now bruh. Whether you are driving or cutting their hair.
Now in the grand scheme of things these “problem riders” will represent about 1% of the passengers you come into contact with. Most passengers, generally become disgruntled when they feel their time is being wasted. This is generally the rule for most humans. Culture would like it to appear people are only crazy on the bus. They have yet to fly on Southwest Airlines. Shots fired.
Here’s the workaround.
If you know your bus is late or there are delays of sorts, get in front of it. Understand the passengers, be apologetic and smile. You’ll avoid 99% of potential issues. The other 1% will be the folks we talked about earlier. Having good customer service will avoid most issues while driving the bus. I’ve had less than 5 super bad passengers in my career. While I’ve transported millions of happy ones.
Myth Two: You’re Always at Work
This myth has some truth to it but again has been promoted as a one-sided argument. When compared to the 71% of Americans who work between, 8-4, or 9-5 it could appear that bus drivers don’t have a lot of time home. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Transit has a wide array of shifts that allow you to truly be flexible. You just have to be strategic and intentional.
People prefer 9-5’s because it automates their life and they can fit in with most Americans. Simply put it’s easier because America is built around the 9-5 workers. Managing a transit job takes a little more thought, but provides more benefits. I went to college and drove the bus at the same time and was still home in enough time to watch Thursday Night Football. I was a driver who preferred split shifts with 4-5 hour breaks because it gave me more productive sunlight hours.
Do you know how much you can get accomplished while on break from 10-3 p.m. every day? You can build a business, you can continue your education, you can work another job You can visit your kid’s school, you can go to the gym, you can go to doctor’s appointments. The list goes on.
Here’s the workaround
Be intentional. Pick runs because they produce an outcome. If you want to go to college, work split shifts, if you want a part-time job work morning, the list goes on. Too often operators pick runs for the wrong reasons and then get mad when it doesn’t work out. I worked 6 pm-2 am, solely because I wanted to build a business not because “I liked getting off at 2 am or it paid a lot”. I never had a bad day doing that shift because it was never about the shift, it was about my business.
Myth Three: The Culture is Toxic
Again some truth, not incorrect just incomplete. I think Transit culture is a product of the comparison curse. I’m not saying the culture is perfect, but again what are we measuring it against? To be honest, what job doesn’t have its fair share of water cooler drama? My wife works for the federal government, and I think they have more drama than Super Bowl refs. In addition to that, there is this gloomy cloud of a management culture that hovers over transit as well, which would lead you to believe the culture is super bad too. Management isn’t bad, they are just managed badly.
Transit like a lot of infrastructures in this country is run and managed by out-of-touch older white guys, and unfortunately, a lot of that bleeds into transit operations. But again I ask, what job doesn’t have its “people problems”? Doctors? Maybe, I don’t know. Greg’s Anatomy seemed pretty drama-filled to me.
Here is the workaround
The bad culture happens in assembly rooms and break areas. But if you’re following the rules set in myth number two, you shouldn’t have the time to be in those break rooms anyway.
Myth Four: You Get Fired For Anything
Now we’re getting warmer but again not completely true. You get micromanaged on everything, but fired? Naw. Actually driving transit especially if you’re backed by a union, is probably the most complicated job to get fired from. There are only 2 ways to get immediately fired from a transit job with no sort of progressive discipline or investigation. Those are talking on the phone while driving, and leaving the scene of an accident. That’s literally it. Also consider, that with unions and various policies, it could take up to a year to officially be terminated. Not to mention with things like arbitration available, if you are wrongfully terminated you’ll be brought back with back pay.
Here is the workaround
Show up on time, go drive, and go home. Understand the rules and the nuances. Don’t pick runs that you know you can’t consistently wake up for. Everyone loves the run that gets off at 2 p.m. until they realize you have to wake up every day at 4 a.m. Don’t talk on the phone while driving, and don’t commit hit-and-runs. Both of which are against the law anyway.
In summary, transit like nearly every other job on this planet has its issues but the key is how you view it. When you really break down the layers and make the job fit you, transit is an incredible opportunity!