About six months ago that’s what I set out to do.
To my list of skills, abilities and accomplishments I can now add “professional bus operator”, immediately above “the almost award-winning fourth-most-popular corporate communication specialist in New Zealand”*.
What a ride these past few months have been. Training has been extensive, as my client guests each day no doubt expect.
I have had to renew my Class 2 and 4 licences, acquire several Unit Standards, gain a “Passenger” Driver Licence endorsement, and show sufficient competency to certifying assessors before being allowed to go solo with fare-paying people. Hardly surprising really. A bus is a significant object (2.5m wide, about 13m long and weighing up to 18 tonnes fully laden), particularly on the streets found here in Wellington. People who get on board need to have confidence that they will arrive safely at their destination, and other road users need to be treated with courtesy and respect.
So what was the attraction of buses? I love things mechanical. I’m drawn to them like a moth to a floodlight, even more so when I can get to operate them. Particularly big things like cars, motorcycles, tractors, bulldozers, backhoe diggers, combined harvesters, trucks, bring it on! I have an agricultural science degree with a major in mechanisation. Get the picture?
In the process of doing this I have been privileged to join a startlingly inclusive family of drivers working for an employer that (unlike many others) genuinely does not discriminate against employing people on the basis of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or age. All that matters, once deemed to be a “fit and proper person” by medical examination and Police record check, is that one is a competent and safe operator of all the bus types in Go Wellington’s fleet.
The handshaking, back-slapping and hugging I received from drivers I didn’t even know the day I was assessed as being “good to go solo” was genuine and overwhelming. I hope I don’t let these folks down.
Don’t make generalisations about the people who operate buses. I’ve met people with masters degrees and other university qualifications in everything from medicine to meteorology. People fluent in English yet for whom it’s a second language. People in their 20s and others in their 80s. Each of them an individual with a commitment to moving others safely from A to B.
I went into this venture expecting to learn lots – not just about the role and the bus business, but also about others and myself. So far I haven’t been disappointed – and I’m still a novice!
Most importantly I’m having huge amounts of fun every minute I’m at the wheel. Long may that continue!
* Apologies to the Flight of the Conchords.