Bus drivers transport people either within or between cities in vehicles powered by gasoline, diesel, or electricity. Bus drivers are responsible for keeping accurate records of their routes, including distance, time, and fare amounts. They are usually not responsible for mechanical repair of buses, but instead report mechanical problems and needed repairs to supervisors. They keep the bus clean, and sometimes make extremely minor repairs while on their routes.
A bus driver’s specific duties depend largely on the type of bus route they drive. Local transit drivers usually transport passengers within urban areas along predetermined routes. They collect fares from passengers, verify bus passes, make change, announce specific stops, and answer any passenger questions. Inter-city drivers transport passengers between cities, and charter drivers transport passengers to a specific destination and usually wait at the location until the group is ready to return. Shuttle drivers transport passengers between passengers’ homes and specific destination, such as health clinics, adult day care centers, hotels, fairgrounds, airport terminals, and parking lots.
Bus drivers must be able to be consistently courteous to customers and passengers. They should have an even temperament. They need to be emotionally stable because dealing with passengers while operating a large vehicle in traffic can be highly stressful. They should have excellent customer service and communication skills. They should have the ability to manage large groups of people.
In 2002, bus drivers earned a median hourly wage of $14.22. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $8.37, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $22.51. The following shows the median hourly wages in the industries employing the highest numbers of bus drivers:
- Local government — $16.95
- Interurban and rural bus transportation — $15.15
- Urban transit systems — $15.02
- School and employee bus transportation — $11.29
- Charter bus industry — $10.64
Training and Education
The standards for bus drivers are set by State and Federal regulations. Federal regulations require bus drivers to hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) from the State where they live. CDL requirements include passing a written test on rules and regulations, as well as demonstrating safe bus driving and operation. If an applicant has ever had a driver’s license suspended or revoked, they may be denied a CDL. Bus drivers who operate within a certain State are usually required to be at least 18 years old. For those who operate interstate buses, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations requires them to be at least 21 years old and to pass a physical examination every two years.
Drivers are required to have at least 20/40 vision with or without glasses. They cannot be colorblind. They must have good hearing and normal use of arms and legs. They are required to undergo drug and alcohol testing under State regulations. They are also required to be able to read and speak English fluently. Many employers prefer applicants with high school diplomas, and on-the-job training is provided by most employers. Visit this page about trade schools for more information on related careers.
In 2002, bus drivers held about 654,000 jobs.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of bus drivers is expected to increase about as fast as the average. The growing and aging population will have an increased need for transportation. The school-age population will also have increased transportation needs. The best opportunities await individuals who have good driving records and who are willing to work part-time or irregular schedules. Competition will remain fierce for higher paying intercity and public transit bus driver positions.