Upon arriving at the garage or terminal where you are assigned a bus, you pick up tickets, report forms, and other items needed for your trip. Then you find your bus and inspect the vehicle to make certain that the steering mechanism, brakes, windshield wipers, lights, and mirrors are working properly. Then you check the fuel, water, oil, and tires and see that the necessary safety equipment is on board. This includes first aid kits, fire extinguishers, and emergency reflectors.
Your inspection completed, you drive to the loading dock, and if there is no porter to help load the baggage, you stand near the door to collect tickets, check bags, and store them in the luggage compartment. You might use the terminal's public address system to announce the destination, route, time of departure and arrival at the next stop, and other information. At departure time you settle into your seat, turn on the ignition switch, and go.
If yours is a local run, you probably will stop at many small towns only a few miles apart. At each stop you help passengers leave and board the bus, unload and load baggage, and take tickets. If it is an express run, you will probably drive several hours on an interstate or other highway before making your first stop. En route you will regulate the lighting, heating, and air-conditioning equipment. Should you get a flat or something goes wrong with the engine, it is your job to change the tire and, if possible, fix the motor, if repair service is not available.
At your destination, you discharge your passengers, drive the bus to the garage, or turn it over to the next driver, and then prepare your reports. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires drivers to keep a record of each trip. The following is recorded: distance traveled, periods of time off duty, and time spent performing other duties. You also must report any repairs or special servicing the bus might need and it is possible that your employer expects you to complete certain company reports as well.
If you drive a chartered bus, you pick up a group of people, take them to whatever destination is set on the schedule, and remain with them until they are ready to return. Some charter buses are used for organized tours, in which case you would stay away from home for one or more nights.
Should you drive an intercity bus, you can expect to work at all hours of the day and night, every day of the year. As a new driver you will be on call at all hours and may have to report for work on short notice. If you are away from home overnight there will be a meal allowance and possibly reimbursement of your hotel expense. Driving schedules range from six to ten hours a day and from three and a quarter to six days a week, but under U.S. Department of Transportation regulations you cannot, as an intercity driver, drive more than ten hours without at least eight consecutive hours off. Although driving is not physically difficult, it is tiring and calls for steady nerves. You alone are responsible for the safety of your passengers and bus, and that calls for an alert mind.
Here is what the Greyhound Corporation has expected of its applicants:
- Applicants must be between twenty-four and thirty-five years of age.
- Applicants must have at least 20/40 vision with or without corrective lenses.
- Applicants must pass the Greyhound preemployment physical examination applicants must have weight proportionate to height (to be determined by the company doctor).
- Applicants must have no more than two moving violations and/or accidents in the last three years and any suspension or revocation within the last three years. They must have no more than four moving violations and/or accidents in the last five years or one suspension or revocation within the last five years.
- Applicants must meet all applicable federal and state requirements.
- Applicants must have an acceptable employment record and demonstrate mature judgment and good character.
Long before it became the popular thing to do, Greyhound was an equal opportunity employer. Through the years, not only has Greyhound insisted on fair and equal treatment of minority groups using its services, but it has tried to ensure the same impartiality regarding employment in the company. Employment inquiries should be directed to your local Greyhound Company operated terminal.
A Few Other Important Facts
It should be noted that in some companies those drivers with low seniority may be laid off temporarily during the winter when traffic drops. Most intercity drivers belong to one of three unions: the Amalgamated Transit Union, the United Transportation Union, or the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Opportunities in Transportation Careers
Salary scales vary tremendously, however. In 1994 median weekly earnings of bus drivers who worked full time were $401. The middle 50 percent earned between $291 and $610 a week. Local transit bus drivers received a top hourly wage of $16.74 from companies with more than 10 employees, and wage scales were less for smaller companies. Intercity bus drivers, who were beginners and worked six months out of the year, earned about $22,000, whereas many senior drivers who worked all year earned more than $48,000.