There are a set of workers that often get overlooked for their hard work because a decent sized part of society assumes their jobs to be fairly easy or non-essential. Unfortunately, the career of a bus driver likely falls into this category as the often-forgotten heroes of the road. But those perceptions are entirely untrue – a bus driver’s job is neither easy, nor is it unimportant.
Whether it’s transporting children on a yellow school bus, carrying passengers on public city buses across town, or driving paying travelers across the country on a long road trip, there's a lot going on for them. They have to account for a lot when driving including the safety of their passengers and others that are sharing the road with them. Their job is also important because they are performing an essential duty that would otherwise set back a big part of our communities. After all, millions of children ride the bus to school every day, as do passengers trying to go about their daily lives on public transportation.
Although we encounter them every day, we aren’t fully aware of their duties and the behind the scene things we never get to see. Here are twenty-five things bus drivers don’t share with passengers, but probably wish they could.
25 Don’t Ask Them Questions While They Are Driving
Few bus drivers will openly tell any customers this, but they really prefer that you not attempt to hold a conversation with them while they are driving. Most drivers will entertain the questions and small talk purely out of respect and their desire to be nice, but would rather they be allowed to focus on the important task in front of them – drive passengers safely to their destinations.
Questions can not only distract from their driving ability, but also affect other things they have to be on the lookout for as well, including the passengers on board.
24 They Really Dislike When You Hold the Bus For Someone
We understand the gesture of holding the bus for a passenger running full speed a block away trying to make it onboard. As a fellow passenger it definitely feels like the right thing to do. Helping someone in need only makes sense. Only it doesn’t.
Bus drivers tend to rarely stop for these passengers for a reason, not necessarily because they are a cold-hearted breed with a desire to ruin people’s days. They simply have to stay on schedule and every time they stop, that’s more lost time they have to account for. They would rather that person simply wait for the next bus which is likely only five minutes behind.
23 They Don’t Need to be Told They’re Late… They Know
It’s a pretty common occurrence for frustrated passengers to board a bus that is running behind and immediately tell the driver that they are late. There really is no need to pass this information along to the driver, considering they are fully aware of this fact. They have an onboard computer that provides them with this information.
They are constantly in tune with their schedule and route, so you aren’t telling them anything they don’t already know. The comment only serves as a way to get under their skin or add to what is likely an already frustrating day considering their tardiness.
22 Public Buses Are on A Very Tight Schedule
It’s already been alluded to earlier, but the schedule each bus is on is paramount to the city’s public transportation system’s success. Only safety is seen as a higher priority. If a bus is even a few minutes late, it puts everything out of schedule including the buses ahead and behind. It essentially works like a domino effect, with large effects downstream that passengers on a single bus wouldn’t understand. From a higher level, each bus has a schedule and route that fits into a much larger puzzle that is the city’s mass transit system.
21 They Have to Deal With People Who Have Little Regard for Buses on the Road
The average driver on the road assumes that just because buses are larger, that it somehow makes them immune to danger. Although it is true that passengers on a bus are significantly safer than those in a car, it doesn’t mean they are 100% safe regardless of how others drive around them.
Bus drivers not only have to worry about maneuvering their own very large vehicle, but have to constantly be on the lookout for smaller cars who recklessly cut them off, get into their blind spots, ride them too close from behind and so much more.
20 Being Late Comes Out of Their Break Time
As one frustrated bus driver who commented on Quora.com puts it, “I am not late just to spite you. On the contrary, if I am late at the terminus it comes out of my break time. I prefer to be on time.”
Most folks aren’t aware of this, but a driver is essentially married to his or her bus schedule which means they have to be at certain stops by a certain time. They typically start a new route when they arrive at a transit center. If their new route calls for a departure at 7PM, but they get there at 6:57PM because their previous route was running behind, it means they only get to relax for a whopping three minutes before they have to head out again.
They want to be on time just as much as you do.
19 Have Your Money Out and Ready To Go
The theme of being on time rears its head on our list once again. This time as an annoyance to drivers everywhere in the form of slow passengers who are simply too busy lollygagging. Out of respect for fellow passengers, it’s simply a courtesy to have bus fare or the bus card out, ready to pay as soon as the bus arrives.
It’s only fair to other paying customers behind you and those on the bus as well. It really doesn’t take very much effort to have everything ready to go before you board.
18 Don’t Overcrowd the Front
This happens fairly often, but for some reason, passengers tend to crowd the front of the bus and choose to stand in that general vicinity even where there are other seats available. It’s somewhat of an inexplicable bus behavior, but it’s something drivers wish passengers would stop doing.
This can be a potential hazard as those in the immediate area behind the driver block their line of sight to everything that is behind them. It’s simply a safety concern and one we should all be aware of.
17 The Front Doors Were Designed For Entry Only
According to bus drivers on Quora.com, there is a rule that almost every passenger is entirely unaware of – “Do not exit via the front door. It is for entry only.” It’s become pretty common practice for passengers to exit through the front door, but it’s apparently something we’ve all been doing wrong.
But when you think of it, it actually makes a lot of sense. Enter through front doors and exit through back doors, which frees up passengers to get on without having to wait for exiting people. Simple concept, yet no one follows it.
16 An Overpacked Bus Likely Means It’s Running Late
This might not make much sense at first glance, but it’s true all the same. When the bus is overcrowded, it means there are a lot of passengers which also means more time for each person to board, pay their fare and find their seats. Buses are not necessarily meant to operate at maximum capacity, but when they do they are very likely running behind schedule to a significant degree.
So if you ever find yourself on a packed bus and it seems like it’s running slow, be patient. Everyone else is late too.
15 Don’t Litter… They Have To Clean Their Bus At the End of Their Shift
Although most mass public transit systems employ maintenance crews to do the deep cleaning that is required of each bus after it’s parked for the night at the garage, drivers are still expected to perform walkthroughs after completing their shift. This walkthrough includes finding lost items as well as picking up all of the visible trash left behind by passengers for the day.
Drivers have had a long day driving for an entire shift and the last thing they want is to have to clean up a huge mess left behind by inconsiderate passengers.
14 They Take It Personally When People Sharpie On the Seats
Graffiti is never really a good thing unless it’s a considered mural art approved by someone. Otherwise, it’s just vandalism on property that doesn’t belong to the person practicing their drawing skills. Using a sharpie to write all over the seats falls into the latter category and bus drivers certainly don’t appreciate it.
Drivers grow an affinity to the buses they have to drive every day and seeing them get vandalized by strangers has to bother them considering the vast majority of them take pride in what they do for a living.
13 They Are Trained to Handle Irate Customers
Although a bus driver's primary goal is to safely transport passengers from one point to another, it should go without saying that sometimes it’s not quite so easy or straightforward.
Unexpected situations may arise in which other passengers pose a problem in the form of unruly behavior. Drivers are trained to handle these irate customers. But don’t expect them to intervene in a way that puts them in danger. They aren’t the police after all. Instead, they are trained in techniques that keep the situation as calm as possible while allowing for authorities to arrive if necessary.
12 They Are Well Aware of the Regulars Who Cause Problems
Speaking of passengers who cause problems, there are always the regulars who ride a certain route just about every day which drivers are most definitely aware of. They take note of these folks, most notably the ones who tend to be problematic passengers. They do so to ensure they are always on the lookout for any issues that might come up, considering these are the folks who keep drivers on edge, to an extent.
11 Their Pay Can Be Docked For Discrepancies
The number of passengers that board a bus is tracked closely. One of the reasons for tracking this data is to ensure the fare collected matches with the headcount. It’s an important aspect of a bus operating successfully and efficiently.
According to drivers on Quora.com, “any discrepancies in my ticket money comes out of my paycheck.” If a driver seems too strict with the bus fare, it’s only because they are often held responsible for the accuracy at the expense of their own take-home pay.
10 They Have to Be Fairly Accurate With Passenger Count
As mentioned in the previous entry, passenger count is important to the overall fare collected at the end of each day. Beyond the financial aspect of it, this data is also important for other reasons. Being able to gather information such as passenger count by day of week, time of day, month, etc. allows for expert analysts to perform trending analysis that helps them make important decisions. These choices help to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase on-time performance.
9 They REALLY Prefer You Use the Bus Card Instead of Cash
In the interest of saving time and moving at optimal efficiency, bus drivers secretly cringe when they see a passenger step on board and pull out cash to pay for their bus fare. Just about every mass transit system in existence in the United States has upgraded to bus pass cards as a means for payment and it really is best to use this form. They’re much faster for paying, more organized, and are less likely to get lost.
8 Try Not to Use So Much Loose Change
If you are one of the passengers who has not transitioned to bus passes and is still using cash to pay for fare, at the very least, for the sake of your driver’s sanity, do so with the least amount of coins possible. In other words, avoid using an exorbitant amount of loose change to pay. You don’t want to be the passenger counting nickels and dimes all the way up to the $3.75 charge. Not only does it take far too long, but the change can sometimes clog the machine, only adding to the chaos of paying with so many coins.
7 Getting on the Bus Knowing You Don’t Have Fare Is an Annoyance
Drivers are responsible for doing their best to ensure passengers pay for every single ride, but are sometimes given the flexibility to allow riders to board without pay under certain circumstances which they use their best judgment with.
Drivers can be compassionate and allow riders onboard for a variety of reasons, but this also doesn’t mean they should be taken advantage of. Drivers are smart enough to know when a person has gotten on the bus knowing they didn’t have the fare to pay and were expecting a free ride. They may give you a one time pass, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t annoyed with your deceiving act.
6 They Aren’t Human Maps
It’s almost as if it is an unwritten rule to assume all drivers are the human equivalent of maps. Maybe it’s because bus drivers are paid to transport people all over the city, but we shouldn’t automatically adopt the notion that they can somehow magically quote us every street and landmark in the city. It’s fine to ask a driver for directions, but it isn’t ok to become upset when they don’t know the answer to your question.
It is 2019 after all, so our smartphones should do the trick just as well.
5 They’re Better Drivers Than You
It’s pretty much human nature for every person to assume they are the best driver on the road. After all, how often do we blame ourselves when something goes wrong while driving? It’s always the other drivers fault, right? Well, to the dismay of just about everyone, we aren’t always the best driver around, but it’s almost a certainty that the bus driver next to you is.
They are maneuvering giant buses in and out of rush hour traffic all while keeping an eye on smaller cars that jump in front of them and watching for the safety and activity of those on board. Don’t discount how good they are at their job.
4 They Have Seen It ALL
One of the go-to conversations when hopping into an Uber is asking the driver, “what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen while driving your Uber?” And it’s safe to say they all have some pretty out-there stories to share. But even they can’t compete with bus drivers who have essentially seen it all. When you really think about it, people from all walks of life board buses and with that diversity of cultures, backgrounds, etc., they are bound to encounter some crazy things.
You name it and chances are they have seen it on their bus at some point.
3 They Know When You Lie About Your Child’s Age
This is one of the biggest pet peeves that really bother bus drivers to no end. It’s likely because it insults their intelligence, but as one driver who left feedback on Quroa.com put it, it really upsets them when they encounter “passengers that try to get away with not paying their fare, including their fifteen-year-old child who they try to say is six.” Of course, this is an extreme example, but it happens way more often than we think.
They know when they’re being lied to about this one and it’s frustrating, to say the least.
2 They Don’t Ignore You Because They’re Rude
There’s a perception amongst the general public that drivers can sometimes be rude which stems from their quiet nature and overall, general lack of interaction with passengers. The reality is that drivers are not ignoring us to be rude. They are simply focusing on the task in front of them which is very important. To us, it just may be driving, but to them, they see it as a major responsibility with many lives in their hands. One major distraction and it can spell harm for everyone on board including themselves.
They just want to get home safe like everyone else, so if they seem cold, cut them a bit of slack.
1 They Have To Plan Around Their Bathroom Breaks
We are all adults and holding it in is not that difficult, but it’s easy to say that when our jobs afford us the ability to take a bathroom break when we choose to. Drivers have a tight schedule they have to abide by and if nature calls, they have to break from that strict routine. The average rider has been onboard when a driver has had to pull over and jog over to a gas station. There’s certainly nothing wrong with this, but drivers try to avoid these instances as much as possible. This is why bathroom breaks are a big part of planning their daily routine.