Special Service Bus Driver
Special Service Bus Driver
Education and Training High school and license
Salary Median—$10.81 per hour
Employment Outlook Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Special service bus drivers are hired by groups or organizations to drive buses and their passengers to certain places, such as theaters or sports arenas. The businesses are usually called charter bus companies. The passengers do not pay the drivers directly; they arrange payment by the directors of their groups.
Bus drivers who work for charter companies make very few stops on their routes. Large groups of passengers board the bus at one or perhaps two stops. The drivers generally drop off all the passengers at the same destination and later make the return trips. Charter buses are hired for fairly long runs.
Sightseeing buses are also special service buses. Sometimes they are rented by groups, but often bus companies lease their vehicles to agencies that offer sightseeing tours. Drivers may guide the tours themselves, describing different points of interest while they drive.
There are also special service buses for people with disabilities. On these buses drivers must help each passenger on and off the bus.
Education and Training Requirements
Generally, special bus drivers must meet the same requirements as other bus drivers. They must be at least twenty-one years old and have good driving records.
Most companies prefer to hire drivers who have high school diplomas or the equivalent. Almost all companies require new drivers to take written tests and have physical examinations.
Drivers must also have commercial driver's licenses, which allow them to drive vehicles that transport more than sixteen passengers. Applicants must pass both written tests on rules and regulations and skills tests on the type of bus they will drive on the job.
Company training programs vary, although most last several weeks. New employees work under the supervision of experienced drivers.
Special service bus drivers often get extra training. Sightseeing guides, for example, must learn details about the places on their routes.
Getting the Job
Special service drivers who run charter buses often get their jobs because they are on the "extra board," a list of substitute drivers, at bus companies. Job seekers can apply directly to the companies. State employment services, newspaper classified ads, and Internet job sites are all sources of employment leads.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
When they advance, special service drivers get regular routes and their names are taken off the extra board. With experience, some become supervisors.
Employment in this field is expected to increase as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014. As people have more and more leisure time, demand for charter and tour drivers increases. Turnover can be high. Drivers who are willing to work part time may find the most opportunities.
Special service bus drivers must enjoy working with people, because they have constant contact with passengers, especially on sightseeing tours. Driving can be tiring and stressful because of traffic snarls and weather conditions.
Special service bus drivers often work irregular hours. For example, charter bus drivers are needed for weekend and night work as well as regular day shifts. Many drivers belong to unions.
Earnings and Benefits
Earnings vary widely, depending on location and type of work. Special service drivers who are on the extra board are paid for each mile they drive. When they are on duty but not driving, they are paid by the hour. In most cases they are guaranteed minimum weekly salaries. In 2004 the median wage for charter bus drivers was $10.81 per hour.
Where to Go for More Information
International Brotherhood of Teamsters, AFL-CIO
25 Louisiana Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001-2198
United Transportation Union
14600 Detroit Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44107-4250
Benefits vary, but most drivers can expect medical insurance and paid holidays and vacations.