Workforce WindsorEssex interviews different professionals for an inside look into their work.
As we take a look at workers in the transportation and warehousing sector, we spoke with Bonnie who works for Switzer-Carty Transportation. You can learn more about bus drivers, subway operators and other transit operators through a detailed Career Profile.
What is your position and how did you get started in it?
Currently, my position is a mini-bus and school bus driver. I began my second career as bus driver, driving a full size bus. My first career was as an accounts receivable manager with a local automotive parts supplier for almost 30 years. When that business was sold to a US company, eventually the accounting department was moved to another province, and I found myself unemployed. “What do I do now,” I thought to myself. I was looking for something part time, not far from home, with flexible hours. My neighbour – who actually drove my children to school for years – lived not too far from me, and I thought, “Maybe school bus driving is a job that I could do.” I spoke with my neighbour, discussed what the job entails and prepared my resume. That next day I headed off to the bus yard that I work for, Switzer-Carty Transportation with resume in hand. That was six years ago now.
What Does Your Average Day Look Like?
An average day begins for each driver at a different time. It depends mostly on what time your first student needs to be picked up. For our company, the students ride typically does not exceed more than an hour. It may take you a bit to arrive at their bus stop to pick them up. You have to go to bus yard in the morning, circle check your bus, then head out to do your run. My first pickup is close to my home; I have a driveway that will accommodate either a full size or mini-bus, so I’m able to park my bus at home. My first student pickup for the 2020/2021 year is at 7:25 AM and I deliver all the students at school for 8:00 AM. I go back to school to pick up, and take the high school students’ home for the midmorning dismissal time, and then back at the school for the afternoon dismissal time. I only transport students for one school this year; some years, you have two schools’ students to pick up in the morning and two school drop offs in the afternoon. It all depends on your assigned bus run for the school year.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding thing I find is in the interaction with the students. Every one of their personalities are different. I try to greet the students with a smile, to get their day off to a great start. It is amazing the connection you can make over a 10-month school year.
Do you ever hear misconceptions about what people think your job is like? How would you respond to them?
Some may think it is just transporting students from Point A to Point B, pick them up and drop them off. You don’t realize it, but as a driver you are a making a difference. When the students see you not in your bus driving seat – out at a shopping or at a park, for example – they make it a point to come over and say hello, or point out to their parent, “See over there? That’s my bus driver!” That is when I know that I have done my job; I must have made an impression on them.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of entering your field?
I have said many times to the trainers and management at the company I work for, this is the best job ever. If you like to do something part time this might be something to consider; I know, personally, I love this job!