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Deacon Who?

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(Note: Ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily shared by the transit agency I work for. This is simply an expression of free speech while describing the work bus operators perform.) I have been (and called) many things in this life. Most of all, I'm a writer who happens to drive a bus. In May of '13 I thought it would be fun to write about my job. As a direct result of this blog, I published a book in November of 2017 called "JUST DRIVE - Life in the Bus Lane" that is available on Amazon. I write to provide insight as to what it's like on a bus... From The Driver Side. Thank you for reading!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The First Post

OK so I've been having a love affair with driving since I was 10. That was a light year ago, and in the interim I've probably driven close to a million miles. From cruising Main Street as a 13-year-old, to hauling lettuce cross-country in a Freightliner, to ferrying people from one part of town to another in a Gillig bus. In the 40+ years since I first pressed an accelerator, the most important thing I've learned is to always be ready for the 'other guy' to do the stupidest possible thing and to be ready for it. Whether you drive a city bus or a Mini Cooper, this is a valuable lesson to remember.

Most people are oblivious to the most mundane points of driving while out on the road. How many of you judge your following distance of the car in front of you, or check your mirrors every five seconds? Can you tell at any given time what color that car in your blind spot is? Or do you even care there is a bicyclist making his way from sidewalk to street and back to sidewalk again just behind you? That bus ahead of you has just dropped off some passengers, has her 'Yield' sign flashing along with a turn signal indicating she would please like to merge back into traffic, and is probably shielding some pedestrians intending to enter a crosswalk.

Do these things register to the average driver in traffic? From my vantage point, the estimate is about 2 in 10 actually recognize these hazards, and one of those two is most likely the operator of that bus, train or trolley you're so fond of cursing. The other one is that other driver you love to hate and honk at because he/she is taking just a few seconds too long to complete the maneuver you might recklessly complete quicker, if only you were ahead of him.

If everyone would stop and think for a moment about why that driver ahead of you is taking a little more time than it “should”, you might realize a few things. That bus turning left in front of you is burning up the green arrow, why doesn't she move faster?!? Well let's see here. A bus is 40 feet long, and it normally takes (at 5-10 mph) about four to five seconds to clear an intersection. It is also eight and a half feet wide, and the length guarantees tail-swing so the driver needs to watch her mirrors very carefully to ensure your impatient ass isn't a collision-to-be. Realizing it takes two or three lanes to safely turn a bus, watch one turn in front of you next time. You'll see (I hope) why the driver is slow to make a turn. Any bus driver who makes one too quickly is asking for trouble.

Many of the buses (yes, that is how the plural of 'bus' is spelled... honest!) in our fleet are 20+ years old, and normally do 0-60mph in about a week. Try as we might, we are no match for the mighty BMW, and it takes what might seem an inordinate amount of time to reach the speed limit. Once there, we often will not maintain that speed, especially if there is an incline of more than three percent.

You see, transit management is more interested in shoving prohibitively-expensive light rail down the sore throats of the populace than spending a fraction of that on maintaining a decent fleet of buses. So our mechanics (gotta love 'em, they keep us moving!) work miracles on these old 6-wheelers, but their magic is limited. Therefore, remaining behind a bus until it stops (which it most certainly will), so you can SAFELY pass it, is the recommended method. However, if you're driving a BMW or a Mercedes or a Volvo, I've learned you consider yourselves much more important than the 30-40 people on my bus. So that's why you blast past the pokey bus and cut me off just before stopping for a red light, just so I can slam on the brakes to avoid hitting your preciously-waxed obnoxiousmobile. Of course by doing this, the sudden braking causes one of my passengers to bang her head on the stanchion bar in front of her.

You see, you alone are more productive to the local economy than those 40 people on my bus could ever be, and especially more important than silly old me: a simple bus driver. So it makes no difference to you that I could have lost my job when that sweet lady hit her head and had to be transported to the hospital for treatment. Since I decided not to lose my job by rear-ending your inconsiderate ass, it is even more inconsiderate of me to slam on my brakes and bloody one of my beloved customers.

So when you flash by me with your inevitable middle-finger salute, I hope somebody else has the cajones to tell you off because I can't. I'm too busy. Chances are there's a Volvo right behind you with a Mercedes chaser.


2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Spankney... please advertise this blog. I will be posting at least once a week and love feedback.

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