Somewhere along the line, a design team decided to add a few feet to the front of the bus. This added more vision barriers. We already have to "rock and roll" in the seat to make sure we don't miss someone, but with several more barriers to scan around, it's more like "bob and weave while dancing to a Michael Jackson tune" on the new buses. Doing this activity is actually dangerous in itself, because we're not stable while moving around in the seat so much.
In addition to the added vision barriers, the driver's seat is still uncomfortable. If you're over six feet tall, the edge of the seat cuts off circulation just above the knees. The adjustable pedals is a nice touch, but on some models the turn signals are too close, making it so you have to actually move your foot onto the turn signal rather than pivot the heels.
The kneeler control is on the dash on many models, requiring the operator to lean forward in the seat to lower the bus. On a typical route, we can kneel and raise the bus hundreds of times a day. Drivers are suffering from repetitive motion injuries, because it's quite a reach even when you're a long-armed monkey like me. If you're shorter of stature, it's more than just a reach. The newest Gilligs have the kneeler and mobility device ramp controls combined with the door opening lever. This is much more ergonomically-correct for the operators.
We're supposed to be impressed with drop-down chains for the maybe once-a-winter snowfall in Portland. However, one driver said he had to crawl over a curb and it broke the chains. Show me a driver who has never driven over a curb, and I'll show you a true service animal: they're both pretty rare.
Another thing I've noticed about the newer buses is the back door opens differently. Instead of pushing when we activate the door, passengers are supposed to just touch it. Since few of them bother to read Signs on the Bus, sometimes they slam through the doors. Problem is, these newer buses don't like a heavy hand, and they tend to slam shut on the unsuspecting illiterates without warning. This earns us angry glares as the boneheads walk past after de-boarding, as if it's our fault they can't bother to read simple instructions.
So next time we order buses, let's have flat-faced New Flyers that incorporate the operator-friendly features, rather than the ugly new Gilligs with fat noses and too many blind spots. But hey, I'm just a bus driver... what do I know?