I started driving bus in 1976 and about 33 years later I retired.
I still drove tour bus for about five years after that. The buses I drove at first were the old Brill trollies that were piles of junk to drive.
The schedules were so tight that quite often on a number of the routes you could have five buses in a row of the same run all caught up to each other.
The stress was incredible. I had a split-shift and I would run between five and 20 miles, have a quick shower and lunch and go back for my second half.
Even with that running in between shifts when I finally got home I would say to my wife ‘I can’t talk right now,’ and I would go out and run another five miles.
That’s how the job wound you up. I’m tired of the news comparing the wages to other public service jobs. How many other jobs are there when, for the full time you are working, you cannot let your attention lapse for one second?
Not paying attention in a split second could put you into a lot of harm along with your passengers. Every time you open the door of the bus to let someone in as they step up they are looking down on you and that person can be any kind of personality that could do you harm.
You are completely exposed and you feel like you are running a marathon to the finish line where you need a rest, but when you get to that finish line there may be a good chance you were supposed to leave 20 minutes ago going back.
I remember one time I was so late I missed a whole other round trip. This job takes its toll on your health, with back and neck problems etc., from the many hours of driving under stress. There were times I couldn’t look to my left because of a stiff neck.
I look back now at a job I retired from in 2006 and, yes, as I got some seniority. I was able to have more choices on the routes I drove and in many ways liked the work, but I now suffer with chronic back and neck pain.
Since then I have heard, as a way to save money, even tighter schedules are in place.
Brian Lauder, Surrey