What Are The Job Duties of a Transit Bus Driver?

Research what it takes to become a transit bus driver. Learn about training requirements, job duties and salary information to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Driver Training degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Bus Driver?

Transit bus drivers are transportation professionals who transport passengers along a pre-assigned route. They are responsible for performing basic vehicle maintenance to ensure their vehicle is in good working order at the start of their shift. They may check the oil, tires and lights. They also ensure their vehicle is clean. Transit bus drivers follow an assigned route and stay on schedule. They make assigned stops at designated stop locations along the route to allow passengers on and off. They also may collect tickets or fares from passengers. Transit bus drivers need to follow all transit rules, and keep their passengers informed of any potential delays.

Education Required No formal educational requirements
Training Required Employee training program
Key Responsibilities Safely guide buses in all traffic and weather conditions, adhere to established scheduling, submit reports of mechanical issues and delays, assist passengers
Licensure Commercial driver's license (CDL)
Job Growth (2018-2028) 6%*
Average Salary (2018) $44,650*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Job Duties Will I Have as a Transit Bus Driver?

Transit bus drivers must safely guide their buses in all traffic and weather conditions. They're also responsible for inspecting buses before the start of a shift, obeying traffic laws, adhering to schedules despite conditions and ensuring that passengers pay correct fares for tickets or transfers. Drivers are required to submit reports of mechanical issues and delays to their departments and to answer any questions passengers may have about the transit system. They must stop every few blocks to pick up and drop off passengers, and they may traverse several routes on a daily basis.

What Are the Training Requirements?

No formal educational requirements are in place for transit bus drivers. However, potential drivers must acquire a commercial driver's license (CDL) with a passenger endorsement that allows the transport of 16 or more passengers. To obtain this license, you'll be required to pass a state-issued written test on safety, local and state laws, followed by a hands-on, bus driving examination with a certified examiner.

You can apply to a local transit authority, and upon acceptance, participate in their training program. Employee training programs can last up to two months, and they teach bus-maneuvering skills and company policies. Eventually, you'll make trips along your assigned route with and without passengers. You'll be accompanied by an experienced driver as you memorize your run from the terminal to route's end.

Can I Advance in the Field?

Bus drivers, unfortunately, have limited advancement opportunities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). In many cases, public bus systems administer civil service tests, which determines which candidates receive heavily sought-after promotions. However, with sufficient experience, you might become a bus driving instructor for new hires, a dispatcher, or a supervisor. If you work for a transit authority that also has a railway system, you may advance to the position of subway operator.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, bus drivers who worked for urban transit systems earned average annual wages of $44,650 in 2018 (www.bls.gov). Those who worked for local governments averaged approximately $50,840 per year. A large number of transit bus drivers belong to the Transport Workers Union of America and the Amalgamated Transit Union.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Transit bus drivers have aspects of their work that are similar to the work that school bus drivers and taxi drivers do. School bus drivers also follow a pre-assigned route, and they pick up students at designated stops. The key difference is that these students remain on the bus until delivered to school. Taxi drivers don't follow an established route, but they are responsible for picking up passengers, transporting them and delivering them to their destination. All of these transit workers are responsible for basic vehicle maintenance, for keeping their vehicle clean, and for following transit rules. They also need to fulfill any state licensing requirements; school bus drivers and transit bus drivers need to have a CDL license.

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