To honk, or not? 'Tis the dilemma we face. Management says DON'T. Veterans are of differing opinions, and probies are just plain nervous about it. I say, if it needs doing, HONK THE HELL OUTTA THEM. It's a teaching moment. It's warning people of impending doom. If you've driven a bus long enough, you know when that happens. If you've never driven a bus before, you're in upper management and your opinion will sway in the direction of what the public wants. Here's my take on it.
If you run into the path of a bus hoping it will stop in time to avoid making Imbecile Tartare out of you, but to actually think that driver will give you a ride, I'm gonna honk at you.
If you ride a bike without hands on the bars while you text away, then swerve in front of my bus, I'm going to definitely honk at your foolish ass as I brake to a stop to avoid hitting you. Count on it. No, BET on it. Maybe next time you'll attempt to think before performing such duh-worthiness.
If you're too impatient to wait behind my bus for 10 seconds while I drop off a passenger, then zip around me as I'm closing the doors to make a right-hand turn from the left lane as I start to roll, I'm not only gonna honk at you, I'm going to push the horn button so long and hard it damages the steering column and hopefully also your hearing. You might think this rude, or even aggressive. I think maybe my reaction might make you realize that waiting an extra 5-10 seconds could someday save your life, and that my honking wakes you to this fact.
If you exit my bus, ignoring the sign above the door that reads "Don't Cross In Front of Bus," then do just that, even though the impatient fools behind me are racing around me across the double-yellow line, for your safety and my sanity, I'm certainly going to activate my loud warning device. Oh, and you're welcome for saving your life after you look up from your phone long enough to see Freddy 4x4 shredding rubber where you might have stepped a moment earlier when you heard my horn over your headphones.
Even though Portland is evidently so broke it can't re-paint lines and BUS ONLY on its transit mall (and too wishy-washy to enforce its own laws), if you disobey the still-legible (albeit ridiculously high and small) street signs warning you to stay the hell out of the two right-hand lanes, rest assured you will hear two mighty blasts from my horn. You'll most likely also hear an even louder horn from the 100,000 lb. light rail vehicle bearing down on you.
If you're an Uber/Lyft driver who insists the transit mall bus lane is the perfect place for you to pick up fares, I'm definitely gonna honk at you. Not only is it rude and against your company's rules to conduct business there, but it's extremely dangerous to your passengers. Expect to be honked at by MOST bus drivers if you make a habit of this foolishness.
If I pull over because an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens is coming in the opposite direction, and you plus five more bozos behind you decide it's the best time to zip around my bus before pulling over, I will honk at you. What if someone in your family is the one in need of help? Just do the right thing and get the hell out of their way; I will be out of your way soon enough.
When traffic is inching along at rush hour, and your light turns yellow, don't just roll into the intersection anyway and end up blocking traffic which has just been awarded the green light. You selfish punk, didn't your mommy teach you any manners? If I've been sitting through three light cycles only to finally have my progress delayed by your me-first impatience. Yeah, you'll get a special helping of Horn Swonkle.
If you just bought your nightly 120-pack of Bud at the 7-11 and expect me to allow you to inch into traffic when I've been waiting several minutes to make the light, don't just pull out in front of me while expecting a smile, a blown kiss and a bouquet of flowers. Nah. I'm gonna honk as a warning to keep your precious Prius pristine. Besides, I'm already late and letting you in when your wait time has been zero means I'll miss yet another green. Sorry, but I've already smoked your cigar, and I hate paperwork.
If you weave on your bike from sidewalk to bus lane, to auto lane back to bus lane and sidewalk, you'll hear a hearty honk. And when you flash that sign language temper tantrum for daring to alert you of the folly of your behavior, I'll add a polite little beep-beep. To me, it is the perfect response to your gesture; it sounds a bit like "ass-hole."
No, I'm not horn-happy. I typically have to honk every day, but if I didn't, there would be a lot of messes to clean up. It's a warning device. For those who politely co-exist with transit, I truly appreciate you. When you show me kindness and patience, I wave my thanks. With all five fingers.