In The Driver’s Seat (Thoughts from a Bus Driver – Part 1)

You’ve probably ridden on a bus at some point in your life.

But have you ever driven a bus?

From the perspective of simply operating the vehicle, it’s not terribly complicated to make it go and stop. The pedals and the steering wheel and the turn signals all operate pretty much the same as most cars or trucks. The transmission may be different than you’re used to, but most of them have automatic transmissions and really function in a familiar manner to a driver of any experience.

But when you see that big console of switches and realize there are a lot more lights on this thing than your car, it starts to get a little more challenging. What are those flashing yellow lights and what’s up with the stop sign attached to the side and what are the places you have to stop where other vehicles may not?

But those are mostly simple details that just have to be learned. It’s not a huge hill to climb.

Back in my public school teaching days, I had to get my school bus license. I had to learn all of the unique regulations for large passenger vehicles. But then I had to learn all of the particular regulations and operational practices for driving a school bus… such as all of the proper safety procedures of stopping on the side of the road for passengers to enter or exit the vehicle and what must be done to ensure that your precious cargo would arrive at its appropriate destination (and in proper working order, of course).

We had to study all of the regulations and talk through all of the strange situations we would likely encounter. But then we had to actually get in the bus and go practice. We had to drive around town learning how to make right turns with climbing the curbs or knocking down mail boxes. We had to learn how to back up a 40-foot vehicle without somehow going sideways. We had to practice the very important sequence of steps for crossing a railroad track.

Continue reading In The Driver’s Seat (Thoughts from a Bus Driver – Part 1)