Intercity Bus Driver
Intercity Bus Driver
Education and Training License and training
Salary Median—$14.30 per hour
Employment Outlook Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Intercity bus drivers carry passengers from city to city, state to state. They work according to timetables and follow fixed routes. On shorter runs a single driver usually does all the driving; longer trips may have a series of drivers.
Bus drivers receive their assignments when they arrive at the terminal. They check their vehicles carefully, examining the tires, brakes, lights, and safety equipment. They are also responsible for fuel, oil, and water levels.
At the start of the trip and at each stop drivers take tickets from passengers and help them with their luggage. On some bus lines they collect fares from passengers. Drivers also supervise the unloading of any freight. While the buses are on the road, drivers may have to make small repairs. If buses need major repairs, drivers are responsible for moving passengers to other buses.
Bus drivers handle a fair amount of paperwork. The U.S. Department of Transportation and bus companies require that they keep logs of their work hours, miles driven, fares taken, and stops made. Drivers must also file detailed reports of any accidents.
Education and Training Requirements
Basic requirements for intercity bus drivers are set by the government. In most cases drivers must be at least twenty-one years old; some companies require drivers to be older than twenty-four. They must be in good health, have good hearing and eyesight—at least 20/40 vision with or without glasses. Speaking, writing, and reading knowledge of English is also required.
Although not all intercity bus drivers have finished high school, most companies prefer to hire applicants who have. Prospective drivers must have good driving records and hold commercial driver's licenses (CDL). Information on how to apply for CDLs, which require written and driving tests, can be obtained from state motor vehicle agencies. Some companies prefer applicants who have experience driving local buses or trucks. Companies usually have applicants take driving tests, written tests, and physical examinations.
Newly hired drivers usually take company training courses that may last from two weeks to two months. In the classroom, drivers learn federal and state rules, company procedures, record keeping, and minor bus repairs. On the road, beginning drivers first observe experienced bus drivers. Soon they make their own runs, at first without passengers. During break-in periods, which usually last one to three months, trips with passengers are made under close supervision.
Once they have passed their break-in periods, new drivers are listed on the "extra board," which allows them to fill in for absent workers. It often takes months and sometimes even years for new drivers to get regular runs.
Getting the Job
Working as truck, taxi, or local bus drivers can lead to jobs as intercity bus drivers. Job seekers can apply directly to bus companies. State and local employment services and newspaper classified ads often provide employment leads.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
As drivers build up seniority they get better routes and higher pay. They may also move into supervisory or management positions.
Employment of intercity bus drivers is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014. Opportunities should be best in group charter travel and in large, rapidly growing metropolitan areas. Intercity bus travel may increase as the population grows and the price of oil and gas rises. Openings regularly occur as drivers retire or leave the field. However, competition may be stiff because the occupation attracts many qualified applicants.
Intercity drivers' schedules vary, but maximum hours have been set by law. They may drive up to ten hours at a time, followed by at least eight hours of rest. They are not allowed to work more than sixty hours in seven days.
Bus drivers who work for large companies often work fewer than thirty-nine hours per week. Many work split shifts, and weekend and holiday driving may be required.
The job can be stressful, because drivers are responsible for their passengers and must keep to schedules. They must be able to keep their attention focused during long trips. However, drivers have a certain amount of independence on the job. They should like working with people and enjoy driving.
Earnings and Benefits
Intercity bus drivers are usually paid according to the number of miles they drive. For short runs they may be paid by the hour. Almost all drivers are assigned a minimum number of miles or hours each week, so their weekly earnings are fairly stable. When drivers' routes take them away from home overnight, their companies pay for their meals and lodging. Drivers who are listed on the extra board get paid both by the hour and by the mile—when they are on duty but not actually driving, they are paid by the hour; when they drive, they are paid by the mile.
In 2004 the median wage for all intercity bus drivers was $14.30 per hour. The most experienced drivers earned more than $25.53 per hour.
Where to Go for More Information
American Public Transit Association
1666 K St. NW
Washington, DC 20006
Transport Workers Union of America
New York, NY 10019
Benefits usually include paid vacations, medical and life insurance, and retirement plans.