By now it seems like we've gone back and forth over the route about 6 times and I'm starting to get really familiar with the stop points and the tricky parts. Even so, I'm surprised when Jim says, "Well, it's almost the end of the shift. As soon as we do our check-out let's go for coffee at the Bus
Stop Cafe. There will be lots of other drivers in there. Maybe you can meet some of them."
"Wow," I think - the day has gone really fast for me. "Jim, I'd like to have that coffee and maybe grab some lunch too. And I'd sure like to meet the other drivers."
"Good," says Jim. "Now normally, another driver would take over this bus on the route, but we're going to return to the
garage today, because this bus needs some routine service so we're going to take it off the road."
Jim pulls back into the terminal. "Okay let's get the post-trip done.
You check the bus for left items and I'll make sure all the windows are closed." Then watch me
fill in the vehicle defect card. We can do the rest of the vehicle check and the post-trip report together too, if you would like."
Pretty soon Jim calls to me saying, "are you ready for that coffee?"
"Yes." Off we go to the Bus Stop Cafe. Sure enough, when we got there Jim walked me over to a couple of tables crowded with operators. "Hi, this is Kim; who's been working with me today."
Pretty soon I'm hearing all kinds of stories about what's happening out on the school bus
routes and accessible service runs. There is even a charter operator sitting at the table.
One turns to me and says. "Are you really interested in this kind of work?" "So far, yes." I say. "Well, how about coming out to see what the school bus world is like?" When I say that would be great, the other operators turn to me and ask if I want to come out with them too. They all chime in telling me that their runs are the best! I'm lucky; right now I have some time off from my own job, so I arrange a turn with each of them.
How does an operator end a driving shift? There are 3 steps:
1. Conduct a post-trip vehicle inspection
Operators must follow detailed procedures when finishing a shift and turning a bus in. This is usually supported by legislation within each jurisdiction. In general, operators will check the bus interior, inspect the vehicle as they did in the pre-trip inspection, and prepare a post-trip report. See the
Checking Out list
(PDF File) for an idea of how this is done.
2. Report on issues
Were there any customer or mechanical issues on the shift? This is the time to report them. Remember that Jim has discovered that one of the tail lights is burned out, so he has a mechanical issue. He will have to fill out a
vehicle defect card
(PDF File) to describe this problem. Jim will submit it to the dispatcher. He didn't have any customer issues.
3. Check in with the dispatcher
An operator must contact the dispatcher and follow the company's check-out procedures. This may include submitting all forms and required documentation, signing in the vehicle, reviewing future work schedules, etc.