Bus drivers bear huge burden


Stu Mair

Some of the bus drivers have been driving the same route for years, making them memorable to their students on that route.

Jordan Toomey, Staff Reporter

Being a school bus driver has never been easy; from taking at least six different licensing tests to the major responsibility of getting dozens of children home safely, driving a school bus can involve a lengthy process.

“We have background checks which are more detailed than normal employment checks due to the fact that we have students which we are responsible for,” Lovejoy ISD Director of Transportation Jerry Graham said. “We also have driver background checks, past employment, and personal checks.”

The process of getting a commercial driver’s license is difficult.

“There were about six to seven tests you have to take before the actual driving test,” football coach Brandon Villarreal said. “There is a ‘permit’ test that you have to pass before you can take the other six written tests that cover everything from air brakes and engine maintenance to how many feet away from the bus should you put hazard cones in case of an emergency.”

As if this wasn’t enough, there is a time limit.

“Once you begin the process you have 30 days to complete all tests. If you fail one, you have to wait at least 24 hours before taking it again and all written exams must be completed prior to the driving test,” Villarreal said. “If you don’t complete the process in 30 days or less you must start over after a 60 day wait period.”

Once all the tests are passed, drivers then take on the biggest responsibility of all.

“[I drive] over 70 kids, that’s very stressful,” bus driver Darcy Harris said. “But it’s also rewarding as well, it’s good and bad. It’s stressful getting everyone home safely, but it’s a good job.”

Being a bus driver is not an easy job, and the district is thankful it has so many people up to the task.

“We look for a dependable person which has the passion and desire for working with children,” Graham said. “The majority of our bus drivers are people who have had professional careers and are wanting to do this job because they like it. We are blessed to have retired military, pilots, entrepreneurs, business professionals, and the most important, people who care.”