A TCAPS Bus Driver
What time do you start your day?
XXX o’clock. It’s almost like working a night shift.
What does a typical morning look like?
I get to the bus garage, run through the morning safety and maintenance checks, and am on the road by XXX.
Do your work hours affect your family life?
Just like with anyone who doesn’t have a nine-to-five job, we make it work. I see my family XXX, but definitely don’t go to the midnight movie at the State Theater during the week.
What do you do when the students are in school?
(Are paid for running two separate shifts, shuttle students who are attending field trips or events, attend class at NMC, etc.)
I remember the bus being chaotic.
How do you handle the students and allow them to have fun on the bus without getting out of control?
One thing that has changed since many of us now adults rode the bus is that we have installed cameras on all of our buses. They help us in the event that something does occur on the bus to quickly and easily see what took place. As a result, we have much fewer incidents than we might have before cameras were on each bus. (Is there an example of where the cameras have been particularly effective that we can describe without implicating or embarrassing any students? Maybe a situation where our cameras picked up a crime going on (not involving our students?)).
Buses used to be prime bullying time, does that still happen?
All of the bus drivers, along with the rest of TCAPS staff working in the classroom, recently took Owleus anti-bullying training. The goal is to help us identify it and deal with it before it becomes a larger problem. While some bullying may still occur, the district is proactively working to ensure that everyone involved in ensuring student safety is trained and empowered to take action.
Are the buses safe?
Our entire bus fleet just received 100% passing rating as part of an annual inspection done by the Michigan State Police. It’s the XXX time in a row that we have received 100% rating. On top of that, our bus technicians are not only widely recognized as the top techs in Michigan, but they will also be going to XXX to compete in a national competition. So, between the video cameras, anti-bulling efforts, and safety rating, the bus ride that you may remember as a kid has changed a lot and is much, much safer.
What is the typical life-cycle of a bus?
Our buses run for about 10 years or 225,000 miles. We typically retire them at that point for a number of reasons: 1) because no matter how well we take care of them, Michigan winters will eventually rust out the chassis; 2) at a certain point, they will no longer be able to pass inspection; 3) at the point we retire the buses, we still have an opportunity to sell them for at least a nominal price, which is better than getting no return at all. For the last XXX years, we have had the bus replacement program in place. It uses bond dollars to ensure that we have a safe fleet to transport our students.
There are some criticisms about changes to the bus routes. What were the changes and why were they important for the district to make?
TCAPS schools serve a total of 300 square miles. That’s a huge area geographically. In XXX, the district did a review to determine the most efficient ways to run our routes. The changes to depot stops that resulted from the review saved the district XXX dollars, which has significantly helped to close TCAPS budget gap. While it may have caused some inconveniences to some families, it was a change we felt that we ultimately needed to make to improve how we do transportation overall.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
(Personal story about helping a student/family.)