Tag Archives: bus driver

Transit Driver Appreciation Day: Thank You From AddTransit!

Have you ever thought about how hard your bus driver works?  They might make the job look like it’s just tootling around all day, but bus drivers have to work hard, be constantly alert, and perform their duties with a smile.

Transit Driver Appreciation Day

Here are some of the ways bus drivers do an amazing job:

They Keep You Safe

According to research done in the EU, buses are the safest way to travel.  They are even safer than walking!  This is in large part due to the excellent training that bus drivers receive.  They have to pass difficult knowledge and driving tests, take medical exams, and continue to take classes throughout their careers to improve their driving.

Most people have had the experience of driving the family car with the distractions of passengers talking or kids crying.  Now imagine doing it with 30 passengers while handling a 40 foot, 27,000 pound vehicle!  Bus drivers must be intensely focused at all times to keep you safe on the road.

 

They Drive in All Weather

Some people might choose to take the bus in the winter when the weather is bad so they don’t have to drive.  But the bus drivers are still driving in that nasty weather!  Bus drivers work in rain, sleet, hail, snow, and high winds, at all times of day and night.  Not only do they have to make sure their own driving is safe, slow, and careful, they have to watch out for other drivers who are going too fast for the conditions.  People slide on the ice or pull right out in front of buses, and those buses don’t stop on a dime!  Bus drivers have to be extremely skilled to stay safe in winter weather conditions.

 

They’re Usually on Time (and when they’re not, it’s usually for a good reason!)

Bus drivers do an excellent job of running their routes on time.  Think about how difficult it is to time a trip.  You’ve been to the same grocery store or friend’s house or you kid’s school dozens, maybe hundreds of times, but do you know exactly, down to the minute, how long it takes to get there?  Most of us estimate, “Oh, it takes about 10 minutes,” then when we hit a little traffic, we’re 5 minutes late!

Bus drivers stay on track the majority of the time.  It’s frustrating when they are late, but consider the reasons.  They may have had to help someone in a wheelchair get on or off the bus at the last stop.  Maybe there was a car accident and they were held up in traffic.  Maybe an elderly passenger took a long time fishing change out of her purse.  Try to be patient with your bus driver when he or she is late, and consider all the times they have been on time despite constant fluctuations in the contributing factors.

 

Bus Drivers Deal with All Sorts of People

Sometimes passengers get angry at bus drivers for not having change, for fare increases or for being 30 seconds late.  Sometimes passengers are intoxicated and acting rowdy.  Some passengers harass other passengers, threaten other passengers or the driver, or bring weapons on the bus.  Bus drivers deal with all of this in a professional and firm, yet kind manner.  They have to make judgement calls about allowing potentially troublesome passengers on the bus and how to handle rule violations like standing in the front of the bus, and they have to do it in such a way that does not escalate a possibly dangerous situation.

 

Bus Drivers Do It All With a Smile

Even on less eventful days, bus drivers have to deal with hundreds of people in a polite and professional manner.  They say “hello” and “good morning” and “have a nice day” dozens of times.  They patiently help an elderly passenger up the steps, give a lollypop to an upset child, and listen to that one passenger’s story about his cats for the 300th time.  They remember the names and the faces and the usual stops of their regular passengers, and they help new passengers figure out the transit map.  And they do it all with a smile!

 

On this Transit Driver Appreciation Day, AddTransit wants to say THANK YOU to all the bus drivers around the world for doing their job well, keeping their passengers safe, and providing excellent customer service!

If you’d like a special way to say thank you to your bus driver, check out the Transit Driver Appreciation Day website.  They have thank you cards you can print.  You can also use the #tdad hashtag on social media and tag your bus or public transit company.

History of Women in Transit: Inspirational Women in Transport

Transportation has always been a male-dominated field, with women often discouraged or outright banned from participating in the industry.  However, many woman have overcome these challenges, proven their ability to do the job, and lobbied to get all-male unions and associations to change their rules.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting just a few of the  many women who have been involved in the transit industry.

History of Women in Transit: Inspirational Women in Transport

Anne Bush

Anne Bush was the first woman in the United States to receive a driver’s license, which at that time was called a “steam engineer’s license,” in the year 1900.

 

Alice Hulyer

Alice Huyler Ramsey was the first woman to drive from one coast of the United States to the other.  She took three other women with her, and they traveled with no maps and often on dirt roads .  She said,“if we got lost, we’d take to the high ground and search the horizon for the nearest telephone poles with the most wires. It was a sure way of locating the transcontinental railroad which we knew would lead us back to civilization.”  She later began racing cars against men and frequently won.

 

Helen Shultz

In 1922, Helen Shultz started the Red Ball Transportation Company.  She dealt with heavy rains destroying the roads her buses traveled on and various financial struggles, but she capitalized on the newspapers calling her the “Iowa Bus Queen.”  She eventually sold the business for $200,000.

 

Mary Walton

Mary Walton received a patent in 1879 for a device that filtered smokestack emissions through water to clean the air of pollutants.  The device was used on trains in New York City.  Mary then received a patent for a sound dampening system that she sold to the Metropolitan Railroad of New York City.

 

Olive Dennis

Olive Dennis was the second woman to graduate college with a civil engineering degree, and she became the engineer of service for the B&O railroad.  She received a patent for her invention of the Dennis ventilator, and she contributed to the invention and design of air-conditioned coaches, dimmers on overhead lights, individual reclining seats, and stain-resistant upholstery.  She was also the first woman to be a member of the American Railway Engineering Association.

For more reading on these women, see Women in Transportation: Changing America’s History.

 

Kathleen Andrews

Kathleen Andrews was a bus driver and transport Manager.  She was the first woman to become a Transit Operator, Dispatcher and Manager in Alberta, Canada.

Read more about Kathleen Andrews here.

 

Joyce Barry

Joyce Barry was the first woman to become a tram driver in Australia.  She started as a conductor during WWII, and when all of the other female conductors were fired after the war was over, she was rehired.

The tramway union objected to women becoming drivers because of the strength it took to use the manual handbrake and the ability it took to climb onto the roof and retrieve the trolley-pole if the trolley-rope broke.   Having experience felling trees, driving tractors and milking cows, Joyce thought these objections were “‘complete balderdash.”  The union went so far as to go on strike to protest the training of Joyce and another woman, Catherine Stone.

In 1975, nearly 20 years after the union passed a resolution to forbid female drivers, the resolution was rescinded, and Joyce became Australia’s first female tram driver.   She worked as a driver for the next seven years.

Read more about Joyce Barry here.

 

Karen Harrison

Karen Harrison was the first female train driver in Britain.  She applied with the British Rail at only 16 years old, and when the recruiters met her and found out she was a woman, they tried to get her to become a secretary instead.   She said her career was “Ten years of hell, ten years of heaven,” because she enjoyed the job, but had to endure verbal and physical abuse from her male coworkers.   She was also an active trade unionist and eventually presided over the train driver’s union’s annual conference.

 

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks is an icon of the defeat of the Jim Crow laws of racial segregation in the United States.  She refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in an act of protest and was subsequently arrested.  She followed in the footsteps of other African Americans who had protested in a similar way, such as Irene Morgan, Sarah Louise Keys and several other women and men.  She became a symbol of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and worked with other civil rights leaders such as Edgar Nixon and Martin Luther King Jr.   She was fired from her job as a seamstress and received many death threats.

The Women’s Political Council was the first group to endorse the bus boycott, and then the movement quickly spread as 40,000 African American bus commuters walked and took carpools rather than taking the bus.   Rosa Parks was considered by black community leaders to be the perfect plaintiff for their legal case, as she was a mature, responsible woman with steady employment.  The boycott continued for 381 days, and the supreme court finally ruled on a different case, Browder vs. Gayle, that segregation on buses was unconstitutional.  Rosa Parks is known around the world as a leader in the civil rights movement.

Read more about Rosa Parks here.

The history of women in transit has been a long, hard road, but today, women are involved in every level of transit.  They are still a much smaller percentage of the total transit workforce, however, especially in management positions.

In some cities in the US, women make up 36% of all transit employees, but only 4% of transportation companies having 50% or more women in management positions.   Read more here.

 

We’d love to hear from you!  Do you have a story about being a female first in the transit industry?  Or how your gender has influenced your opportunities and advancement?  How has working with women expanded your company’s perspective and vision?