What qualification is needed to become a bus driver?

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A bus driver is responsible to transport people from various places like school, work, and shopping centers across the state. Some drivers will be providing service at regular routes and others carry passengers on chartered trips. The drivers should be an expert, able to handle a range of vehicles. They work without direct supervision and will be fully responsible for the safety of the passengers. The majority of drivers in the US work for schools and for private bus companies that contract with the district transferring children to school and for field trips. They drive the same route daily and handle additional duties after school. They are usually employed by the school. Driving through heavy traffic, bad weather and handling tough passengers remain stressful for bus drivers.

What does a bus driver do?

A bus driver is responsible for performing various duties.

  • Picking and dropping off passengers at the designated location
  • Maintain a planned route as per schedule
  • Aid disable passengers to get on and off the bus
  • Obey traffic state rules and regulations
  • Keep passengers updated about possible delays
  • Perform basic maintenance of the bus
  • Keep the bus clean and presentable to the public
  • Communicate with passengers regarding any issues along a route
  • Prevent unruly behaviour from passengers
  • Collecting fares, handling customer luggage, and keep the track of passengers

School bus drivers are responsible for performing duties differently. They need to pick up students daily from their home in the morning and drop them the afternoon. They drive students to field trips, sporting events, and other activities. During free times, drivers are responsible to employ in other duties like cafeteria workers, janitors, and mechanics. School bus drivers need to perform various duties like:

  • Ensure the safety of kids getting on and off the bus
  • Helping children with disabilities
  • Maintaining the safety of children while driving
  • Following school system rules of conduct
  • Reporting disciplinary issues to the school management and parents

Charter bus drivers transfer passengers on the chartered trip or sightseeing tours. They arrange schedules and routes based on the convenience of travelers who are on vacation. They spend a longer time with passengers. They need to perform these duties:

  • Handle passengers luggage and place them safely inside the vehicle
  • Help passengers load and unload luggage
  • Ensure the trip starts on time
  • Picking the passengers from the hotel and dropping them after the trip
  • Act as a tour guide for passengers if necessary
  • Account all travelers before leaving the location
  • Ensure passengers remain comfortable inside the bus

Local transit bus drivers follow a daily schedule transferring passengers on the regular route along with the city or suburban area. They stop the bus frequently after every few blocks and also when a passenger requests a stop. The local transit drivers need to have patience providing enough time to allow passengers to step in and out at every stop. They need to collect bus fares and manage the fare in the box, answer queries about fares, route, schedule, and transfer points, report accidents, and other traffic issues to the concerned manager.

Intercity bus drivers are accountable for carrying passengers between two towns or cities. They pick up and drop passengers at the bus station or curbside locations in downtown urban areas. The intercity drivers perform the following task:

  • Checking passengers ticket and making sure they are seated properly to the seat located to them
  • Sell tickets to passengers if unsold tickets are available
  • Keep track of passengers while getting on or off the bus
  • Help passengers loading and unloading the luggage

Transit and intercity bus drivers used to face injuries and illness frequently while performing their duty. Most injuries might be due to vehicle accidents.

What are the employment requirements to become a bus driver?

There are no formal education requirements for becoming a bus driver but the candidate needs to meet state and federal rules and policies. The type of education, training, and certification needed to become a bus driver can vary depending upon the type of driver they want to become in the area they live in.

Education – Most often drivers need a high school diploma to qualify for the position. Rarely they may require a college degree.

Licensing – Candidate who is looking to become a driver will need to hold a commercial driver’s license and the requirement vary by state. They have to pass the written test, eye tests, hearing tests, and driving tests. Drivers need a specific endorsement on their CDL license. They need passenger endorsement and school bus drivers need school bus endorsement. The endorsement usually needs them to perform extra testing. North Carolina requires drivers to have completed 18 years of age and have at least 6 months of experience as a licensed driver. Some state requires drivers to submit a criminal background check and pass a medical examination. Some states may require drivers to receive extra training in areas like mountain driving, and transferring special need children.

Training – drivers must attend 3 months of the training program but those who already possess a CDL license may attend short-term programs. The part of training includes spending time driving the bus and then steering in light traffic, eventually make practice driving the vehicle through the route they may expect to drive. New drivers will be having scheduled trips with passengers and they will be accompanied by an experienced driver who will be giving tips, answering queries, and evaluating the driver’s performance. Some driver’s training includes learning company rules and regulations, state and municipal traffic laws, and safe driving practices. Drivers should know about schedules, bus routes, fares, and how to interact with passengers.

Experience – Possessing a valid CDL and proper endorsement would be enough to apply for a job. When many applicants apply for the position, the professional experience a driver holds will place an applicant at the top of the list of interviewees. Most employers will require drivers to have enough experience to be qualified for the position. Federal law needs interstate bus drivers to submit random drug testing while on duty and pass a physical exam every two years.

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