Although they are not often mentioned, bus drivers play an important role in driving the economy. They transport people from all walks of life to their workstations, drive employees to field trips and pick up and drop off school kids. This profession is ideal for people who love jobs with little formal training and have an ability to concentrate for long periods.
What Do Bus Drivers Do?
Bus drivers can be categorized into local transit bus drivers, intercity bus drivers, charter bus drivers and school bus drivers.
Local transit bus drivers work for commercial travel companies transport passengers on regular routes along suburban or city streets. They often make stop-over’s at several designated stations to drop and pick passengers.
Intercity bus drivers also work for commercial bus companies where they transport passengers between two or more towns or cities. They ensure passengers have valid tickets to board the bus.
Charter bus drivers, also known as motor coach drivers, work for charter bus systems where they transport tourists on sightseeing tours or chartered trips. Because charted trips follow a specific schedule, these bus drivers ensure the bus stays on schedule.
School bus drivers work for learning institutions where they transport students to and from school. They typically pick them up from designated pick up points in the morning and drop them off in the evening. These bus drivers also transport students to tours, student camps and other educational activities.
Apart from transporting passengers to various destinations, bus drivers also have the following duties and responsibilities;
- Ensure the bus is in a sound mechanical state. This involves checking lights, tires and engine fluids.
- Ensure the bus is clean and presentable to passengers.
- Help passengers with disabilities board and exit from the bus safely
- Help passengers load and unload baggage from the bus
- Adhere to all transit regulations and traffic laws
- Dispatch information to passengers on delays and other issues
Education and Training
To qualify for employment, you need be at least 18 years old and complete a specialized training program, which leads to obtaining a commercial driver’s license. Therefore, to become a bus driver, you must complete these steps;
- Complete secondary education – this is essential to securing an admission to a professional training program.
- Join a training company or local driving school– training usually takes 1 to 3 months.
- Pass driving and knowledge tests administered by regulatory bodies to obtain your CDL or Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) license.
- Prospective school bus drivers must pursue additional training to become certified.
Competent bus drivers should have the following abilities:
- Vast knowledge of traffic laws
- Spatial visual ability to spot road signs and markings correctly
- Excellent communication skills to share information with passengers clearly
- Strong concentration skills to drive for several hours without losing focus
- Good hearing ability to detect changes in engine sound that may spell mechanical faults.
Although they work on shifts, commercial bus drivers commonly work from 6am to around midnight, all week depending on the demand for services. In the United Kingdom, however, the National Careers Service reports coach drivers can only driver a maximum of 56 hours a week and 90 hours in any consecutive two weeks.
Salary and Employment Projections
Mean Annual Wage
All Bus Drivers
Trainee Bus Drivers
£13,000 - £15,000
Experienced Bus Drivers
£16,00 - £ 25,000
By 2020, the National Careers Service projects the U.K. economy will create about 130,000 jobs in this sector, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the U.S. economy will create 57,900 jobs for bus drivers by 2022.
Although advancement opportunities for coach drivers are limited, you can become a dispatcher, supervisor or station manager after gaining vast bus driving experience. Pursuing training courses in customer service can also improve your career advancement prospects.
Now you know what it takes to drive a bus. If you want to play your part in building the economy while earning a good salary, bus driving could be a perfect profession for you.