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Bus Driver

So you want to become a bus driver. This comes with certain tasks all of which are the same regardless of whether your aim is to be a school bus driver, a coach driver taking people to locations for the day or if you just fancy driving a bendy bus around London.

The Basic Requirements

The applicant must be at least 18 years old and have no points on their full UK category B driving licence. Furthermore to become a bus driver you will need to pass a medical examination which most other driving jobs do not require. This is due to the fact that you are going to be operating a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) and this requires a Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) license (like a lorry driver) but you will also have the added responsibility of carrying members of the general public and hence the physical test is required too.

Working out the type of license you need depends on the maximum authorised mass, or MAM, and this gets a little complicated but overall you will definitely need to obtain a category D licence. You will need to complete the D2 and D4 medical report forms to get things underway and these are available from the DVLA. Once you have received the relevant documentation back from the DVLA you can look into the other tests required.

Join a School

As with learning to drive a car or becoming a qualified driving instructor there are schools available for you to join to learn the relevant skills. Making the transition from driving a car to a bus is not easy; attempting to quality without training would be risky and expensive. The other added bonus of joining a school is that they know exactly what you need to become bus driver and may even have some of the paper work! With the training a school can provide you will learn everything you need to pass the theory tests including provisional materials such as work books and revisions guides. Also, like learning to drive a car, you will get to practice on the public highway with a qualified instructor in a training bus. This will happen after some training within their teaching grounds where all the various practical manoeuvres and general operation of the bus takes place. Here you will also learn maintenance and general vehicle knowledge which you may need to demonstrate on your practical exam. Also worth noting, some schools have their own doctors to perform the medical test and this is usually included in the schools fees.

School Fees

The process of learning to drive a bus is far easier than learning to drive a car as one already possess most of the basic skills from operating smaller motor vehicles. The schooling to obtain the specialised bus driving skills can take between 3 and 5 working days and can cost anywhere up to £1,000 depending on the school of choice.

Theory Tests

You will need to book a theory test which you may or may not have taken when you first passed your driving test, depending on when this was undertaken. The tests are made up of two parts, a multiple choice theory test of which you need to score over 85 out of 100 questions and a hazard perception test of which you need to achieve 67 out of 100. These tests are taken one after another so plenty of revision should be done. A useful aid is the CD teaching guide to use on a computer which I found to be more helpful than just reading a book. To book these tests please go to https://www.gov.uk/book-a-driving-theory-test and follow the steps provided. If, however, you do fail one out of the two tests you can reattempt it within 2 years of the other passed test. It is worth noting that 3 days are required between attempts and these are chargeable.

Driving Test

Bus DriverOnce the theory test is successfully completed the actual driving test can be undertaken. This is a 90 minutes long examination and involves a number of requirements to be met. It is once again similar to a driving tests for cars and you will be required to demonstrate your ability to operate the bus. Driving must be completed in a safe manner on the roads and you will have to perform various manoeuvres such as; a brake test, use of mirrors, dealing with hazards, pulling away on a hill and others including an off road test to demonstrate your reversing skills! Again, if for some reason you fail then you can retake the test after 3 working days.

Passing

Once you have passed your Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) you will be supplied with a Driver Qualification Card (DQC) which you will need to carry whenever you are driving a bus. To keep this license you will be required to perform 35 hours of training every 5 years.

Other Skills

Being punctual is one of the most important skills for a bus driver to possess but obviously if traffic is bad there is nothing you can do about it. Good communication skills are important also as you may be a coach driver and thus retrieving baggage for passengers. A good understanding of the area you operate in is also essential because you are expected to know “where the hospital is” for instance. Also consider that you will have to deal with the elderly, disabled and mothers with prams; being considerate to their needs will make their journey pleasant and you a great bus driver.

How Much Can You Earn?

Well it really depends on what bus or coach you drive, which company you get a job with and what hours you work. As a typical example a London bus driver can expect to have a minimum of a 38 hour week guaranteed by their operator of which anywhere up to £15 per hour is paid. This would equate to around £30,000 per year. If you then consider over-time it would not be impossible to earn anywhere up to £45,000.

Image Credit- Flickr

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