Driving a bus is not much more complicated than driving a car, but you do have to be more careful given the length and weight of a bus, as well as the responsibility you have with the passengers. However, the basics are the same, although you may need to learn gearshift driving if you've never driven like this before.
Part 1 of 5: Obtain a License to Drive a Bus
Step 1. Identify the company you want to drive with
Most companies train their employees to drive. For example, many cities offer a training course for their bus drivers. Decide what type of company you want to work with and find out if they have a training program.
- Your main options are to be a city bus driver, long distance bus driver, or school bus driver.
- Decide based on what appeals to you the most. For example, you may not want to be a long-distance driver if you have a family at home. On the other hand, you may not want to be a school bus driver if you don't really like kids.
Step 2. Meet the qualifications
Most companies have basic qualifications that you have to meet. For example, you often have to be of legal age to drive. You will also need to pass a background check and a physical exam to drive. The physical exam is important because you will be required to lift a lot of weights, such as pulling out ramps and lifting or securing wheelchairs. You will also need to have a clean driving record and have been driving for at least 3 years.
Step 3. Complete the training
When you work with a company, they will provide the training for you. You will likely do about six weeks of training. However, if you prefer, you can pay for private training by a company that specializes in the license you need to drive a bus.
Step 4. Get the appropriate license
In most places, you must obtain a commercial driver's license to drive a bus. Other places also require you to get special approval in addition to this if you are going to drive a school bus. You may also need passenger approval regardless of what type of bus you are driving.
- You will have to study local laws and pass a written exam to get this license. You will also have to pass a driving test. Contact your local department of motor vehicles to find out what material to study and what tests to take. If you are going to obtain your license through a company, they should help you with this information.
- For these licenses, you may also have to meet certain criteria, such as passing a background check and physical, just as if you were going to train with a company.
- If you don't have a license, you can be fined or even jailed for multiple violations.
Part 2 of 5: Starting the bus
Step 1. Adjust the seat, steering wheel, and mirrors
Just like in a car, you have to adjust the seat when you sit down. This step is especially important when driving buses as other people can drive the same bus while you are not on duty. You should also adjust the rudder so that you can control it comfortably.
- Adjusting the mirrors is also essential. Make sure you can see the rear wheels in the outside mirrors, as well as the road behind you. In the interior mirror, you should be able to see the inside of the bus and the road behind.
- Cross-vision mirrors should help you see the front of the bus, what you can't see without mirrors from your seat.
Step 2. Start the engine
Set the parking brake if it isn't already on. Press the clutch if your bus is a standard one instead of an automatic one. Put the vehicle in neutral gear before turning the key and starting.
Step 3. Press the start button
On most buses, you now have to press the start button. However, with some engines, you will have to wait around five minutes before pressing the button. For example, if your engine is diesel and has an intake heater or glow plugs, this means that these parts need to warm up before starting the engine. There should be a light that goes off when you can press the start button.
Step 4. Position your hands correctly
As in cars, you must position your hands in a particular way to get the best grip on the wheel. On a bus, the recommendation is at the 9 and 3 o'clock position, which means that if you imagine that the wheel is a clock, your hands will be where the numbers 9 and 3 would be. Another way of looking at it is that your Hands should be in the middle of each side of the rudder.
Part 3 of 5: Learning to change gears
Step 1. Identify the changes to the bus if it is a standard one
If the bus is automatic, you do not have to worry about this method, but if it is a standard one, you will have to. It begins by establishing how many gears the bus has; generally, it is four or five to advance more the neutral gear and the reverse gear.
- You must find a diagram on the bus. If you can't, find someone with more experience to inform you about the bus's gears.
- Once someone shows them to you, you may want to make your own painting in case you forget.
Step 2. Start moving
Start by pressing your left foot on the clutch, which is the pedal to the left of the brake. Then, put your right foot on the brake and shift into second gear, which will be the starting gear.
- Then release the parking brake. Slowly take your foot off the clutch until it reaches the friction point and then stop. You will know that you have reached the sticking point because the bus will start moving. Move your foot to the accelerator.
- As you begin to accelerate, release the clutch with your left foot, pushing further down on the accelerator with your right foot.
Step 3. Shift to other gears
When you drive and you have to go faster, you will have to shift up. The process is similar to how you made the change to get the bus moving. Again, if you are driving an automated bus, you can skip this step.
- Press the clutch with your left foot. As you do so, take your right foot off the gas pedal.
- Shift into the next gear.
- Next, take your foot off the clutch and hit the gas pedal. You will have to do this step a little faster than when you started moving the bus.
- Use the same method to downshift.
Part 4 of 5: Turning and Steering the Bus
Step 1. Choose the most comfortable method of turning
Just like in a car, you can use one of two methods when turning the wheel. Either you move one hand over the other to turn the wheel or you push with one hand and pull with the other without crossing. The one hand over the other method can be a bit more fluid, but if you feel more comfortable with the push and pull method, it can be just as effective.
Step 2. Brake before cornering
If you try to slow down in the middle of a curve, it can be disastrous for a bus. You can cause it to skid, for example. You could even lose control of the bus. Therefore, when approaching a curve, consider whether you will need to slow down and do so before reaching the curve.
Step 3. Skim the opposite side of the lane
That is, you should give yourself as much room as you can to round the curve. Because of this, you have to move towards the edge of the lane, giving yourself more space.
- For example, if the curve goes to the left, you will move to the right side of the lane.
- If the curve goes to the right, you will move to the left side of the lane.
Step 4. Accelerate out of curves
This movement is the same as in a car. That is, when you reach the middle of the curve, it is time to start accelerating again. Return to the previous speed as you finish the curve.
Step 5. Turn right
While left turns are generally quite easy, right turns can be more difficult given the length of the bus. Approach an intersection as you would in a car, getting into the correct lane and slowing down.
- Don't swing into the lane to your left as you could hit a car. Just skim that side of the lane.
- If you must take up extra space to make a turn, do so in the lanes you are turning into. That is, when turning right, you can swing a bit into the lane next to your new lane if necessary and then return to the correct lane. Just be sure to pay attention to other vehicles and pedestrians.
Part 5 of 5: Do other maneuvers
Step 1. Check for blind spots when changing lanes
When joining traffic, it is important not to rely solely on your mirrors if possible. Of course, your blind spots are in slightly different places on a bus. Once you turn on your turn signal, wait a few seconds before entering the lane to give other drivers a chance to honk if you don't see them.
- When you enter a left lane, your blind spot will be near the rear of the bus on the left side.
- Make sure to move your whole body and head to look around people and check the back and sides and see everything you can in the mirrors.
- Before changing lanes, make sure you have a length of 1 1/2 bus between you and the next vehicle.
Step 2. Stop on the train tracks in most places if you drive a school bus
Most places have a law on school buses and train tracks. In other words, you must stop, open the door, and watch to see if a train is coming down the tracks. Generally, you should take this precaution even if you have no passengers on the bus.
- You will need to turn on your hazard lights before braking, as cars may not expect you to stop.
- Stop close enough to get a clear view, but try not to stop within 15 feet or less.
- Stay stopped if you see a train coming. Don't try to race against him. If you don't see a train, proceed across the tracks.
Step 3. Back up with help
Avoid backing up as much as possible as it is always safer to move forward in a vehicle such as a bus. However, when you must back down, it is best to ask someone to help you, if there is one. Ask him to stand where you can see him and then he can help guide you where you need to go.
- Before backing up, honk the horn. You should also turn on the hazard lights and the audible signal that indicates that you are backing up.
- Just go back in a straight line. Put the bus in reverse and back slowly until the person tells you to stop. If you don't have anyone, use your mirrors to guide you.
Step 4. Stop the bus
Remember that a bus is very heavy. It can weigh up to 8000 kg (9 tons) without having anyone on board. A full bus can weigh up to 13,500 kg (15 tons). This means that it will take much longer to stop on a bus than it would in a car.
- Put the vehicle in fourth gear when you have slowed to less than 50 km / h (30 mph).
- Press the clutch when stopping. Gently release the brake until you come to a complete stop.
Step 5. Park the bus
Find a suitable place to park. If you are going to enter a gas station, for example, you should choose to use one built for buses and trucks since some parking lots are not made for such large vehicles. Once you find a spot, put the bus in neutral.
- Unless the bus is going uphill, turn your wheels to the right. If your bus is facing up, the wheels must face to the left.
- Set the parking brake and turn off the engine. Always remove the key from the ignition.