I’ve got a lot on my mind about transit, not the least of which is my excitement over riding an international transit system soon (Santiago’s).
But I wanted to briefly mention one or two thoughts on bus drivers. I had occasion to be riding buses a good amount the past few days, and on two occasions, I was thrown around the bus because the driver stopped suddenly. One driver stopped suddenly twice, nearly causing me to crash hard into the floor, while another stopped suddenly once, and I was better able to brace myself.
I mention this not to either a) call for seatbelts on buses (though they might be worthwhile), or b) call out particular drivers, but it gave me a new appreciation for the skills a driver needs to perform well. We want buses to run efficiently, on schedule, and comfortably, and those goals can end up opposed to one another, particularly in heavy traffic (as my rides were in). More than anything, my experience made me realize that bus drivers may earn more than others in jobs considered to be in a similar category (trades, etc.), but they do deserve it given the challenges of driving a bus and the number of lives we place in their hands.
On a more positive note, one of these two drivers actually took the trouble of alerting a sleeping college student that she had fallen asleep and might have needed an earlier stop. His bus was stopped when he did this, and we weren’t behind schedule. The student really appreciated it, and I was very moved by it. It reminded me of the obvious fact that bus drivers aren’t robots but human beings trying to help people, and it also reminded me that we transit riders may take for granted our “right” (or “privilege”) to sleep while we ride. I admit that I enjoy having that privilege, though I seldom use it if I’m riding by myself because I’m afraid I’ll miss my stop. But that driver’s courtesy really impressed me and reminded me why I value my rides on transit.