Drivers discover satisfaction on delivery

Inexperienced motorists add to danger on road


Ashlyn Rinehart

Bus 17 waits to load students to take home after school. Photo taken by Ashlyn Rinehart

Driving a bus can be a job full of joy, but full of misery. It’s packed with struggles, but with struggle comes gratification. But, most importantly, it helps people.

Most people see the job as a slacker’s job, but as a whole, it can be just as difficult as teaching a class.

Just like a teacher’s schedule, every day is a busy day for bus driver Matt Beers. He wakes up early, has a schedule to stick to, and has to deal with kids every day.

“Once I get to the bus lot, I spend fifteen minutes or so examining my bus and letting it warm up before I start my primary route at 7 a.m. My secondary route starts at 7:44 a.m. and I’m usually back at the Transportation Center by 8:40 a.m. I’m back on my bus around 2 p.m. for my afternoon route,” said Mr. Beers.

There is more to the life of a bus driver than just getting up early. There’s the most important part — the students.

“Being a bus driver is an incredibly humbling experience, for both good and bad reasons. There are days when you think you have it all figured out. Other times you feel so defeated that you wonder why you ever thought you could manage a busload of kids,” said Mr. Beers.

Students aren’t the only difficulty in the bus driving career. There is always the difficulty of traffic – which can be frustrating for any driver – but a bus driver who has a schedule to follow has more urgency than a normal driver.

“The average bus driver doesn’t get as frustrated with slow or heavy traffic as they do with impatient and unsafe drivers. Unfortunately, as the majority of traffic around the high school is made up of young or inexperienced drivers, we see a lot of driving behavior that frustrates us,” said Mr. Beers.

This problem may stem from the underappreciation of students, but he thinks that the most appreciation comes from teachers, and surprisingly, truck drivers.

“Teachers know how quickly a classroom can become a war zone. Truck drivers know how quickly a calm road can get dangerous,” said Mr. Beers.

He just thinks that students don’t have the right perspective towards how difficult the job can be. They’ve never driven a bus, so they just don’t understand.

Transportation director Thomas North has the same opinion on the topic.

“For the most part, I think our drivers all feel very appreciated by their students and school administrators. Like any job, no one can truly appreciate it until they try it for themselves,” said Mr. North.

The job isn’t all about the difficult life of a bus driver. There are more technical programs involved in transportation. These programs are used in the process of creating bus routes and making sure they are as efficient as possible.

“We have a wonderful software program that helps us create the routes. In addition to updating our routing software in 2019, we currently have loading and unloading procedures in place to keep route times efficient,” said Mr. North.

Every year, the transportation team needs to create new schedules and new routes for buses and bus drivers. The process includes many factors, such as mileage, fuel costs, and general wear and tear. The team even takes into account how well-lit the bus stops are and how far they are from the students’ home.

One of these students is sophomore Dominik Shramek. He is a pretty much daily bus rider, and he has some certain qualifications for what makes a good versus bad bus driver.

A good bus driver in his opinion is on time, knows how to drive, and uses the full bus. A bad bus driver is only a bus driver that doesn’t care about the kids.

“As long as they get me to school and back, I don’t really care,” said Dominik.

At the end of the day, being a bus driver goes a little deeper than just driving a bus. There are schedules, traffic, and even taking care of the bus overall. But it all boils down to one thing; the children.

“The world can be a frustrating and unloving place. We rush around from one thing to the next and we forget how important it is the be patient and kind with one another. I have a unique opportunity to provide a place where my passengers can find a few moments of peace,” said Mr. Beers.