By Hannah Wolfe
Bus drivers all around the country stay up late driving student athletes to games, get up early in the morning so students can ride the bus to school, and drive students to field trips and more.
They dedicate a big majority of their time so students and athletes are able to get where they need to go, and they do many things to make sure passengers on the bus are safe.
An AJUSD bus driver, Michael Cohen says there are many favorable things about his job although it is sometimes challenging.
“There are many positive things being a school bus driver. Transporting children to and from school safely, watching as the children I drive grow up, and mature and helping a child learn about bus safety and proper behaviors,” said Cohen. “When driving a special needs route, simply being able to help someone who has a disability is a blessing.”
Drivers have to do many things before they are allowed to drive and board passengers on the bus. They must inspect the steering system, brake system, suspension, engine compartment, tires, wheels, check for lights or emergency alarms that may not be working, make sure there are no broken windows, lights or reflectors, that all of the emergency exits operate properly and so on.
The driver also must perform a seven-point test of the air brakes system. The driver is ultimately responsible for the safe operation of the bus. This usually takes the bus driver around 25 minutes.
Lori Alltop is also an AJUSD bus driver, and enjoys her job even though its alot of work.
“Driving the school bus is like driving your office,” said Alltop. ”You aren’t stuck inside a building. You can enjoy the weather and you see a lot about the city you live in.”
Drivers can drive up to about eight hours in a single day. For field trips, the drive time would vary from as few as two hours to as many as 10 hours. When drivers take athletes to away games they usually leave at around 3 p.m. and don’t get back until close to 7 o’clock at night and occasionally even later than that.
With all of the things bus drivers have to do, making sure students are safe is the top priority.
“Over the years of bus driving, with lots of hours and miles on the road, I have become a better defensive driver. I want my students to have safe rides to and from school,” said Alltop.
Cohen claims that being a bus driver is rewarding and he always treats the students that ride his bus as his own.
“Driving a school bus is a rewarding experience,” said Cohen. “As my wife says, I have been the happiest being a school bus driver than at any other job I have had. I treat the students as if they were my children or grandchildren because everyone deserves respect, including children.”