Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

10 things a bus driver wishes you knew

To preface this handy manual on bus riding at University of Massachusetts, I just want to say that these are my opinions and mine alone. They may not reflect the stance of UMass transit or the PVTA.

These are just some tips from one bus driver to the public on how to be a less grouchy passenger.

1. You run, you ride

This is actually UMass transit policy. If I haven’t left the stop yet and I see you running frantically, I will stop and wait for you. If you are making eye contact with me and waving your arms about, I will wait for you. If you can’t run, for whatever reason, but signal to me you are desperate to get on the bus, I will wait for you.

Now, if you are taking a leisurely stroll, watching the clouds and picking your nose, chances are I’m going to assume you do not want to take the bus. If you’re jogging, dressed in jogging clothes, and refusing to even look at the bus, I’m going to assume you are out for a jog. And sometimes I won’t see you running like a maniac because I’m focused on traffic and that’s life.

2. The bus being late is almost never the driver’s fault

There are many things that can make the bus run late: traffic, weather, road blocks, detours, broken traffic lights, overloads of passengers or just plain bad days. None of these things are the fault of the bus driver and none of them will be made better by yelling at the bus driver.

I’ve been riding public transportation to important places my whole life. I know how frustrating it is to have the bus run late. And as a driver, I do my best to be on time. If you are frustrated and stressed out about the bus being late, chances are I am too. I will get you there as soon as I possibly can, whether you choose to vent your rage at me or not. I prefer the latter.

3. The driver knows the destination of the bus

I know this sounds obvious, but I do know where the bus goes. If you are confused about the destination of a particular bus, just ask. I can’t tell you how many times I get out to South Deerfield or some other exotic location just to have someone sheepishly approach me asking if the bus goes to Orchard Hill. There are some scenic routes and I think the ride out to Belchertown Center is a lovely one, but I’m guessing you’d rather get where you’re going. When in doubt, ask. I’m really nice and I’m happy to answer your questions, even when I’m singing along to my music.

4. But try to avoid, “Where does this bus go?”

The bus goes a lot of places. Instead try, “Does this bus go down Main St.?” or “Does this stop at Crestview?” It will get you the information you need faster and more accurately.

5. If the driver is announcing something, listen

Some buses don’t go where you think they go, or they purposefully skip roads and stops. Drivers will announce these irregularities before they happen. If the driver is yelling or using the intercom, take your headphones off, pause your phone conversation, look up from Angry Birds and pay attention. You can avoid unnecessary wintry walks this way. Again, if in doubt about the destination of the bus, just ask.

6. There’s a procedure to riding a crowded bus

During high volume times, like getting to class in the morning, the bus gets crammed. Most of you know how much it sucks to be that one person who can’t squeeze in. But for some reason, despite knowing the despair of bus-related tardiness, once they’re on the bus some people decide to take up a whole bunch of space.

Drivers will tell you to do the following steps when they’re trying to squish people on, but why don’t you go ahead and do it yourself to save time. Remove your backpack and place it on the floor. Lift up the wheelchair seats and fill that space. Fill nooks and crannies with your body. Make friends. Help others get to class by forgoing a little personal space.

7. Shoving your way onto a crowded bus when you’re drunk is not the fun game you think it is

Having a drunken fist fight on the bus is not the fun game you think it is, screaming at the driver drunk is not the fun game you think it is, making rude, obnoxious, drunk comments is not the fun game you think it is. Generally I think drunk people on the bus are not the fun party people they think they are.

It’s important that you ride the bus drunk. It’s there to keep you from driving. Just keep in mind respect and general human decency.

8. If you get on the bus feeling nauseous, there are trash bags near the front door

Take one. They are your friends. And by throwing up into a trash bag and not on the floor or out the window of the moving bus, you are a friend to both your fellow passengers and the driver.

9. There are schedules everywhere

I have a few schedules memorized after driving the bus for almost two years, but often times I have no idea when the next bus you’re trying to get is coming. There are schedules on the buses to grab. There are schedules online. There is a site you can get on your phone that tells you when the next bus is coming. You can follow UMassTransit on Twitter for delays and reroutes. And if you’ve never read a bus schedule before, I’m more than happy to help you figure it out. Just ask.

10. Being a bus driver is fun

I get this question a lot. “Do you like being a bus driver?” Most of the drivers I know really like driving the bus. The pay rate is pretty good too. We get to drive around the beautiful western Mass. countryside, help people get where they need to be, save the environment and provide a service to the community. Despite the occasional grump, I enjoy my work. Think you’d like to give it a try? UMass Transit is always hiring.

Victoria Knobloch is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]

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  • C

    ConradOct 12, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    I can’t speak for all of us, but I am a bus driver and I prefer it when passengers converse with me. It makes the loops less boring.

  • A

    AnonMar 3, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Totally not even from your school or anything, but this is such a great article. I feel like bus etiquette is something that not everybody knows, but when you become a seasoned bus rider, it’s just always THERE and it’s so weird to see people not observing common courtesy.

    My biggest pet peeves are when people stand at the front of the bus when there are empty seats or when there’s space in the back and people refuse to move to the back, and when people put their belongings on the open seat next to theirs during rush hour or some other crowded time. Ugh.

  • M

    Mia C.Apr 15, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    As a Freshman in college who spends on average 1-3 hours on city busses per weekday, this article is great & hilarious. I am from Portland, OR.; and I definitely feel that our bus/lightrail/WES services are extremely reliable & most of the drivers are very friendly. I just want to say that I really appreciate drivers like you, that are willing to take the time to just be happy or “pretend” to be happy if you need to on a bad day. It is amazing what a difference it makes in a person’s day between the bus driver that kindly says a simple “hello” vs. the ones that don’t say a word & have a huge frown on their face. I want to say “thanks!” for that. I believe that you all deserve more respect than you get. I also liked what you put about the garbage bags. As a passenger who gets extremely bus sick, and can manage to tell the driver to pull over before I lose it; I absolutely hate those that throw up all over the bus & then cause the whole bus to be evacuated. It is quite avoidable. I guess they quite possibly may be drunk; which brings me to the subject of drunk people. I give kudos to all of you for dealing with drunk people on a daily basis. You rock & I appreciate your dedication to people. 🙂

  • D

    DavarFeb 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Nice article.