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- Road Stories
- John - Mechanic
- Sharon - School Bus Driver
- Wilson - A Fork In the Road
- Ms. Kinga
The tune “The wheels on the bus go round and round” means something else to mechanic John. A veteran mechanic in all facets of the trade, John feels with his brilliant career choice, he has a “good fix.”
“The satisfaction of seeing a bus come into the shop and being able fix anything is very rewarding,” he says. “You can feel comfortable knowing you are not only servicing the bus, but also the general public at the same time.”
Throughout his 25 years he has moved from strictly dealing with tires, to being a supervisor for his own shop of five mechanics. He says he has several memorable moments, but nothing tops his involvement with the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
“My most memorable experience was being part of the 1988 Olympics in Calgary,” he says. “I got to meet the athletes and spectators from all around the world who rode our buses to the various venues. It was thrilling.”
Being an expert in bus mechanics, John has two apprentices in his shop. The advice he gives to them as they enter the bus industry is simple-
“It’s a decent paying career,” he says. “You can have a comfortable and satisfying life knowing you are helping the people riding the buses you fix.”
A typical bus route for Sharon involves driving a selected bunch of children to and from school. After 25+ years of flawless driving and extensive experience she believes the love for children kept her behind the wheel.
“Being a bus-driver fit into my schedule and seeing the same kids year after year is very satisfying,” she says. “I really like the flexibility of my job and also seeing the many kids grow up through the years.”
Sharon could be described as an expert in the field; therefore, when asked what suggestions she would give new drivers, she had these tips to share.
“You must be patient not only with kids but also with traffic,” she advises. “You have to enjoy this environment or you won’t stick with it.”
Being a veteran in the industry, Sharon has had many memorable experiences; however, nothing, she says could top her scout trips.
“I did the charters for the World Scout jamborees in Kananaskas near Banff four years,” she says. “Meeting the boy scouts from all over the world was the most rewarding and amazing experience in my bus-driving career. Seeing them in awe of [Canadian] mountains was just great.”
When Wilson came to the fork in the road, he drove down the road of success, and half a century later found himself celebrating his golden anniversary of 50 loyal years of service in the bus industry. With his successful history behind the wheel of a school bus, Wilson modestly admits he hasn’t received such recognition before.
“My fiftieth anniversary doesn’t make me feel any different,” he says. “I thought to myself if I stayed at it I could drive a bus for fifty years. I never thought I would get so much attention!”
His milestone didn’t go without recognition. He attended a golden anniversary dinner in Toronto, where he received the Robert Harding Lifetime Achievement Award as well as an award from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation for safely transporting children for 50 years.
“Many awards are given out every year for valour,” he says. “I am honoured to have received this recognition from the bus industry.”
Drivers like Wilson don’t come around everyday. In fact, his achievement was very exclusive for the bus industry.
“There were only three of us receiving the lifetime achievement awards that evening,” he says. “I was the only bus driver. The other two were from the trucking industry.”
“Driving a bus gives me something to do,” he says. “My family owned a bus line for many years and I just continued and ran the business. I have been to 18 different schools and seen many kids. I was chosen to transport all kinds of different children including those with special needs. Now I even drive my 3 granddaughters.”
Although he has 50 great years of safe and successful bussing under his hood, there are still bumps in the road he would as soon avoid.
“It’s really trying to drive my bus during snow storms,” Wilson says. “Here in Bruce County, since we’re close to Lake Huron, you will be out one morning doing your route and all of a sudden a storm starts and you can’t see the road. White outs are really scary, especially with a bus full of kids. You just do your best to stay on the road as you creep along. That’s the most trying part of my job.”
Wilson is one bus driver who achieved 50 years of loyal service transporting thousands and thousands of children. Many more can follow in his example; and when they come to that fork in the road, hopefully they will turn in the direction of Wilson’s legacy.
When it comes to bus drivers, Ron is on a route of his own. A veteran in the industry with 27 years in his rear-view mirror, Ron wrote a book about his career, and has a track record he can be proud of.
With all his accolades put aside, Ron speaks about why he entered the bus industry 27+ years ago and what he finds truly rewarding about his career choice.
“To be honest, I was looking for a job and I wanted something challenging,” he says. “I toyed with the idea and went for it. And now, I believe I made the right decision. I find my career very rewarding since it gives me the freedom of not being cooped up in an office and I meet many different people.”
Ron, a native of Edmonton, wrote a book with Edmonton Transit entitled “Bus,” and gives suggestions for new bus drivers getting behind the wheel.
“Follow this career with self-honesty,” he advises. “If you feel you would enjoy this career, give it a shot. Follow your instincts.”
The Highlight of his career was when he received his Employee of the Year award.
“Getting this award was a surprise,” he says. “It felt good knowing I was recognized for doing my job properly and well.”
A mother of young children Margaret, decided to pursue a rewarding career as a bus driver. With over 15 years under her belt, Margaret says the flexibility and the new daily surroundings were enough to get her behind the wheel.
“ Since I have young children, being a bus driver worked well for me and my schedule,” she says. “I love meeting new people, and I really like the fact that I am not stuck inside an office.”
Being a veteran in the industry, she has suggestions for newbie drivers entering the field.
“ To be a successful bus-driver, you must be aware of your surroundings,” she advises. “You must have your eyes open to the other drivers on the road who will give you a hard time.”
Besides having 15 years of flawless driving under her belt, Margaret also has a perfect attendance rate, and says there are many reasons why being a bus driver is a rewarding career.
“ When children get off the bus and smile at me and then thank me for driving them home, it’s the most rewarding aspect of my career. This makes my years as a bus driver all worthwhile.”
Amidst her typical busy day of motherhood, Kinga includes a morning and afternoon school route on a bus. Needing a flexible profession where her hours were at her convenience, Kinga decided to pursue a rewarding career as a bus driver.
“I didn’t want to work full-time since I wanted to stay home and raise my daughter,” she says. “Being a bus driver meets my needs as a mother and my love for driving.”
Kinga says in order to be successful as a school bus driver you must display certain attributes.
“You must enjoy being around kids,” she says. “Also, I drive my bus during rush hour periods. In order to succeed in my job, you must be comfortable driving under these conditions and have the patience to stand the other drivers on the road. They try your patience sometimes.”
Kinga has been a bus driver for serveral years now. She possesses a perfect attendance record, hasn’t missed a day, and has no accidents. She works part-time in the office as well, was offered full-time, but declined since it would eliminate her bus-driving responsibilities, which she enjoys too much to leave.
“I really love working in the school bus industry,” she says. “When I was offered full-time in the office, I couldn’t accept it because I love driving my bus and meeting the kids too much.”