The best bus drivers in the business are exceptional at customer services. They go above the traditional role of driving the local bus around the designated route. They may help elderly people get onto the bus, for those in wheel chairs; they’ll park up safely, and operate the ramps without making a fuss about the timetable going to be running late.
There’s more to driving buses than knowing about traffic regulations and how to read road signs.
Sometimes, you need the ability to read people too. With the huge number of local bus routes, you will find yourself working on a designated route when you’ll get to know your regular passengers.
For those using public transport to get to and from their work, you can play the hero of the day, just by knowing when to expect someone and giving them some leeway when you know to look out for them running down the road. Everyone runs late on occasion, bus services in particular and when the bus is late, people are late, so time management is a crucial aspect to this line of work. That said, not all the jobs are driving around local routes.
There is the option to expand your driving horizons and go on the long-distance routes, exploring the country, taking passengers from one city to another and if you choose to work with a coach tour operator, you open your opportunities to take to the roads overseas. That will require additional skills, with preference to candidates with knowledge of a second language, and in particular, European driving legislations.
You’ll also be expected to be in good fitness as you’ll also be responsible for the loading and unloading of luggage, when you’re working with a coach tour company. No matter whether you want to become a bus driver serving your local community, or if you want to take to the high roads of Europe, you are going to need a full EU driving licence and quite a few tests before you carry any passengers anywhere.
What do you need to become a bus driver?
You have a couple of ways to approach your training.
You can go the direct route and take up private bus driving lessons or, the alternative is to approach a local bus operator such as Stagecoach, National Express, Megabus, Arriva and so on and inquire about training positions they offer for a career with them. With large operators, they will look for customer service skills and a proven work history where you’re directly involved with the public. Those are skills you need to bring, as you can’t be trained on manners, but for those with the patience, and understanding to deal with the public in a sometimes challenging role most will be willing to provide you the training.
You bring the skills they need and they will teach you how to drive a bus. If you do go down the route of training with a bus operator, they’ll usually have a contract in place to protect their investment in your driver training.
No business is going to pay tuition fees for staff, without a failsafe to protect them from trainees walking away with their newly acquired certificates to benefit a competitor.
Contracts of employment will vary but you can expect to be tied to a 12+ month employment contract with the company that trains you, before you can go and work elsewhere. If you’re happy with the fair trade, then by all means try first to get your training sponsored, or at least a provisional contract of employment upon passing your PCV test. If you go the direct route to obtain your PCV licence, then you’ll certainly be in a more employable position, as the only thing you’ll lack to start out in the career is working experience.
To obtain your provisional entitlement licence for training, you need to have full and current EU driving licence.
If you’re approaching employers to sponsor your training, most will look for drivers with a clean licence, and have held it for over one year. Age restrictions are dependent on the company as some allow applicants from the age of 18, with others preferring trainees to be over the age of 21. A provisional entitlement to drive a bus will be required to undergo training either privately or with a local bus firm.
Car licences are category B and that’s required before you can apply to have a provisional entitlement of Category D to be added to your licence for training purposes.
Before you can sit the practical test though, you’ll need to pass the theory test. That consists of two parts. Multiple choices for the theory aspect, and the second component being hazard perception.
Once you’ve passed the theory test, you’ll be provided with your certificate. That will detail the certificate number, which you’ll need to keep as it’s required to sit the practical driving test. Once you pass both the theory test and the practical driving test can you then go onto the final part of your formal bus driver training which is to obtain your Driver Certificate of Professional Competence. (CPC). Once you’ve passed that, you’re issued with a & Driver Qualification Card and that’s when you’re able to approach employers with your licence – ready to go to work.
After that – 35 hours of continued driver training is required to have your Driver Qualification Card renewed every five years.
A medical report is required for PCV licence holders, and you will be required to sign a declaration indicating you meet the medical standards in order for the licence to be renewed on a five-year cycle. Once you reach the age of 45, a medical examination report will need to be submitted in order to renew your driver’s licence.
Once you have your PCV driving licence, you will be required to undergo induction training with the bus or coach firm you work with, as there are more machines than the bus to operate. You’ll need training on operating the ticketing machines, learning the routes you\’ll be driving, working with the radio communications in the driver cab, customer care, and health and safety awareness.
The role of a bus driver is to transport passengers by bus to their required destination. As a bus driver you are the one who is responsible for your passenger’s safety and comfort during their journey on your bus.
There are several types of bus driver jobs that you can apply for once you have qualified with your Passenger Carrying Vehicle license. You could drive a bus for the community, a school bus; you could transport the elderly or hospital patients. So you are not limited to one bus driver role, it depends on your personal choice.
One thing is for sure no matter which role you choose, you will still need to have the same kind of skills in order to carry out the job professionally and these are –
Above is just a short list of some of the main skills you will need to have in order to carry out the every day job role of a bus driver.
What is also important to remember is that when working as Bus driver this can sometimes lead to other opportunities and will definitely lead to personal career development.
For example you may get the opportunity to travel with this job, and work abroad, or you may work within community transport and therefore specialise in driving the schools buses for example. This job role can also lead to promotion such as – driving instructor, inspector or a service controller, so if you are a dedicated and hard working individual there is no reason why you can not progress in this driving industry.
The typical salary of a bus driver is around £20,000 per annum and this can vary simply by the region that you work in!