23 April 2015

Driving a bus

Back when I first started this blog, I was working in the city and catching the bus to work. In fact, that's what inspired me to start blogging, in a round about way.

We were sitting at a red light one morning and the bus was making funny noises and the suspension seemingly levelling the bus out. I wondered if the driver was doing it, or whether it was automatic, so I googled it when I got home and came across Dave's blog. I thought, I could do that, blogging I mean, and started this blog shortly after. I've since created a couple of other blogs and had a couple of other jobs.

About three weeks ago I started a new job and I won't give you any guesses what it is, because it's in the title. I'm now driving buses for a living.

I didn't wipe the lens properly before I handed my iPhone over to a colleague, so the pic is a bit dodgy.

We started off the training early this month, covering all sorts of stuff like customer services, driver fatigue, ticketing, manual handling, even national security. The classroom stuff was interspersed with route familiarisation where we took it in turns driving around the area the company services. We have several types of bus in the fleet, from old, manual Volvo B10Ms to nice flash Mercedes coaches, so we got a broad taste. The pic above is during our route familiarisation, in a Mercedes low floor bus. I have to publicly state here that the trainers at my company are brilliant. They're serious about the job they do, but they also have great senses of humour.

Today was my first time with paying passengers and it's quite a leap from driving around with your course-mates sitting behind you, ribbing you when you mount a curb, or make a wrong turn, to carrying real passengers that might ring up the depot and complain.

I had a split shift today, the first part of which was an express run into the city. My mentor did the run in and I drove empty back to the depot. That particular bus had brakes that you needed to stand on to get them to work. In Aussie parlance, bus 512 was a shit-box. I pretty much had the hang of it by the time we got back though.

The afternoon shift was a school run and fortunately it was one of the better schools in the area, the one my step-daughters attended. The bus for this run had brakes the total opposite of the morning run, to the point that it didn't take long before I realised the kids had noticed I was braking a bit heavy. A bus full of kids going, "Ooooh!" and bags falling over every time I pulled up, tends to teach you to be gentle. I did get some feedback from one of the kids, whose mum is a friend of the family. Apparently I did okay, not sure what that says about the other drivers doing that run.

I'm on a big learning curve at the moment. I've sort of got the hang of getting 12 metres of bus through some pretty tight turns and chicanes, but I still need to get used to the ticketing, remembering to stop at bus stops and then open the doors, and learning the routes. At the moment though, it's a pretty good job and it seems there are quite a few old hands at the depot who agree.

Did I mention the pay's not bad too?

No comments: