Sunday, January 30, 2005


Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many school buses are there in the United States?
There are approximately 450,000 school buses transporting 24 million schoolchildren each school day.

2. Why are school buses yellow? In 1939, at the first meeting of the National Conference on School Transportation, a guideline was adopted that the exterior of school buses be painted a color now known as National School Bus Yellow. However, each state has the authority to designate the color of its school buses.

3. What are the requirements to become a school bus driver? Each state has its own requirements for drivers. In addition, the employer, whether it's a school district or private school bus operator, can impose its own special requirements. Basically, however, drivers must obtain a commercial driver's license and receive a minimum amount of behind-the-wheel and classroom training before ever transporting students. They also must undergo drug and alcohol testing (a federal requirement), pass a medical exam, and, in most states, undergo criminal background checks.

4. Why don't school buses have seat belts?

Many of them do, actually. The smaller buses often used for special-education transportation are equipped with lap belts. But the larger buses typically do not have seat belts. That's because school buses built after 1977 have a passive occupant protection system called compartmentalization. Through compartmentalization, passengers sit in what could be described as a protective cocoon. This cocoon is created by closely spaced, energy-absorbing seats with padded backs. Over the past decade or so, fatalities among passengers of school buses have averaged fewer than 10 per year, an incredible safety record.

courtsey: Copyright 2004 - School Bus Fleet - Bobit Business Media  

***my personal thoughts on this is that if all my passengers were belted in and I needed to evacuate quickly ... it would be difficult to unfasten 40 or so grade schoolers...if they paniced and couldn't do it themselves***

***the school bus is designed to protect the child as the seats are padded in such a manner (called compartmenting) that protects the student when he/she is seated properly***

Friday, January 28, 2005

wow it's friday!

"Photo courtesy 2safeschools"

You got less than
3 minutes!

This photo was taken of a school bus about 2 1/2 minutes into a fire, started for training purposes. - Photo by Michael Birrell, Chief, City of Dearborn Fire Department.

Did you know that a school bus can go up in flames in 3 minutes?  That's the statement the safety director at my work told the Dean at the high school after he only 'talked' to the two boys that were smoking on my bus.  He didn't even call their parents!!  He's answer? " I did not know that."  Hmmm my opinion is that what those boys did was not a discipline issue but a safety issue! 

So today on another bus...which is brand spanking new... a junior high girl decides to burn her seat.  Left a 2 inch hole and a burn mark up the back of the seat.  Very scary stuff.

Education is the key...and in the spring when I do bus evacuations I am going to bring up fire. 

Education is the's the key to keeping our kids safe. 


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

oh rats!!


Darned if one of those little stinkers didn't write on my seats today!!

A loves G

I know better than to jinx myself!!!

Took home the alternative kids detention kid trying to show off was telling me stories of when he was in the homeless shelter.  Gives me great insight as to why this poor kid causes so much trouble and acts the way he does.


Very sad....

Monday, January 24, 2005


It was a Monday in the truest sense today!  One of the drivers who drives a RE (rear engine) bus was going to take off from his Junior High drop at the the school this morning, and his bus wouldn't go...he lost air pressure in his breaks!  RE's have air doors and air pressure for their emergency breaks...(gone are the stick shifts and regular air brakes like semi's have).  And he was near the end of the line to drop off too.  Which made everybody hang out into the street.  We got around him, but one girl had to back up which is a no, no, but she had to.  I made my drop and was late getting my high school kids.  But we still made it to school on time.  There's one thing I do not do is stress about time...hurrying has caused way too many little accidents.  NO thanks.  And today everybody else on the road had somewhere to go so they wouldn't let me in, in traffic or they all were speeding. 

Two of the high school girls were talking about my stepson, who had told them that he moved back to his mom's.  They were funny, they think is good looking, sweet and nice.  The poor naive' things don't realize how much of a head case my stepson is.

I enjoy the high school kids, because basically unless they talk to me I just try to stay out of their lives.  I mean how many teenage girls want unsolicated comments from an adult??  But they do talk to me and tell the other kids I am nice.  I like being nice but not too nice.  Bus drivers should never make the mistake of being too friendly with kids, then you lose their respect when you have to be a hard guy if something happens, then they turn on you like a pack of wolves.  I liken it to parents trying to be kids friends.  It just doesn't work.

My biggest pet peeve is kids writing on the far so good this year (now watch I'll jinx myself).  But my bus was used last year for a really rowdy group that destroyed the seats and there are patches everywhere. 

I did fine with my shuttle a midday.  First I go to a Junior high and get a kid who is very smart and is taking Math at the Oswego East, then I go to Oswego High (takes about 7 minutes) and get the mechanic students and take them back to Oswego East, then everyother day (Orange and Blue days, because our schools have block scheduling) I take the show choir girls to Oswego High...then I go to base sit and recover and start my afternoon.  I knew I would sooner or later be called to do something else during my midday, which is a 2 hour shift and I spent a lot of it parked and waiting.  (napping?!).

Well that's enough out of me...take care

Friday, January 21, 2005


We are supposed to get something between 4 and 10 inches of snow, more with the Lake effect (which means not us but Chicago).  Why don't the weather guys just say 1 to 10 inches and then no matter how much snow we get they'll save face and be right.

I had a trip for tomorrow, my daughter's speech team, but the school that it is supposed to be held at is a "Yuppie" school and they pre-cancelled everything.  That's a-ok by me, this was a long week of driving and I need the day off. 

Next week they want me to do more shuttling.  With the new school they don't offer classes at both schools so the kids get shuttled back and forth.  So instead of sleeping behind the school waiting for the kids to come out for the shuttle I actually have to work, which is a-ok by me.  I believe it's the American way to work. 

The beauty of my job is we are Union and have a contract until 2007.  We are guarenteed 6 hours a day and 2 hours if we have midday route...which is very sweet.  I like to keep the more runs I do the better.

Many schools are going to sub contracting to save money.  Subcontractors usually are part-time help with lower wages.  Our motto has always been you get what you pay for.  Our district is growing and the consistancy of knowing who your kids go back and forth to school with is reassuring to many people. 

I know it was for me when my kids road the bus...and my daughter still takes trips so I am happy to know these good people.  I know she is's important. 

Thursday, January 20, 2005


The high school kids had finals so we had to come back at 10:30 to take them home...then on to my midday kindergarten route.  My little buddy R, was talking away to me behind my seat.  I think the kid just loves attention from it's a chance to work on his English.  There was a lady in his driveway pulling out and I asked if she was his mother and he said he had 3 mothers...and counted on his fingers, "mom, grandma, dad, that's 3", hmmm, maybe he has a ways to go on the grasping of the English language. 

Then in the afternoon I ran my Junior high route and had a hour to gossip at the grade school.  Nothing like some good old bus driver gossip.  When the grade schoolers got out they were so confused, there is no line up at their school and we park nose to tail around a circle and then down the sidewalk, first come first served...there's about 15 buses so they have a big school.  I am NEVER first and I was today, they were all shocked and confused.  But the managed, gotta keep those kids on their toes!

Well I need to rest up tomorrow will be another busy day as there is another day of finals.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The wheels on the bus go round and round

Today I had one of those a-ha moments where I realized I LOVE MY JOB!!!  I felt really sad when it occurred to me that I may lose it.  The feeling at "base" was down and negative.  I said to the doom sayers, "HEY!!  Be posititive we aren't dead yet!" 

And no matter what happens I have found my calling, and after listening to my little grade schooler tell me in his "missing my front teeth" manner, that his grandpa drives a bus and he did other stuff, but he now drives, made me realize that I can go anywhere and be a bus driver.  And if God forbid we are contracted out, I'll work for the new company if need be...but I'm not going without a fight!!

My two little kindergartener who are Korean and love to talk to each other in their native tongue in the seat right behind me where both so proud today.  Seems the little guy R, who has already been suspended from the afternoon route 2 times hence the reasoning for sitting right behind me, discovered that little B had gotten his hair streaked with blond streaks just like him.  He said to me "Bus driver!!  2 yellows!!"  At first I had no clue as to what in the world he was talking about, then I saw the cute.  At 5 years they are so aware of fashion.  Actually, everyday I meet with a fashion show of new haircuts, new "ugg boots", new "packbacks" as they call them, and the passing of  " lipstick" (chapstick), which I try and discourage.  So worldly at the rip old age of 5, but so innocent. 

Otherwise it was cold as the 0 degrees  forcasted and my bus didn't warm up until I was nearly done with my 4th run of the afternoon.  I dressed for it with long underware, sweats and snowpants, you can never be too warm.

It's snowing again, but that's ok because the temp is going it'll be 27 by morning...a heat wave...yippeee!!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Saturday, January 15, 2005

my stop sign won't go out wahhhh!!

Clipart Illustration of a School Bus Stop Another brrrr cold day and with the cold comes all the problems that mechanical things have when it's so cold.  When the temperature is 10 or below the mechanics start our buses for us so I was ahead when I came in.  My bus is old so it takes forever to heat I wore long johns, sweats and a pair of jogging pants on top, along with 2 shirts and a sweatshirt and heavy coat, later I got a scarf, because the wind was wicked and besides it hurt. And of course there were the Junior high kids standing out at their stops with bare legs and wet hair frozen to their heads, and high school boys with no coats... One kid did say, "hey bus driver I got my coat!" My new high school friend, that now sits up front away from the pot talk showed me her new tongue stud, ICK!  I have tattoos and I am all for being different but your tongue???  Way to dangerous, I mean you could die if that gets infected!  There's still all sorts of talk at work like last summer about us losing our jobs and the District contracting us know it's weird being on this side of the fence.  Four years ago I voted no for a tax raise for the  My job is on the line and I am not so sure what I should do. The last tax hike wasn't going to cut so deep though.  Kids will lose so much now.   We shall see, if we are contracted out I could work for the company that takes us over, but that would mean less pay, less hours, I said we shall see how this comes to pass. Until then...I am going to go cuddle up in a warm blanket...Monday's a paid holiday and I have a 3 day weekend.  

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Hey! put your lights on you moran!!

FOG!  Way big fog today!!  We have strobe lights on our bus roofs so we can be seen, but that didn't help the 50 % out there this afternoon who were running around without headlights.  They remembered this morning, but old Mr I am out to lunch and Mrs housewife running errands didn't ... they're out there yacking on their cellies while I am trying to not rear end all I could see was brake lights and then it is too late.  But I showed them I just drove that much slower.

I decided to write up my smokers...those little snots spit on my floor and the more I thought about them lighting up and putting the rest of the kids in harms way...the madder I got.  Only one of them was on today and there was no problem.  If they do it again, I am going straight back to the school and letting them deal with it.  I don't want to have to get a monitor ( I call them babysitters) or a recorder in my camera's such a pain.

Also at our main high school we line up in diagonal lines with the special services buses up front near the exit to a busy highway...we have a traffic cop, but between parents, kids driving and walkers you have to dodge a lot.  A lot of the time kids like to stand around with their friends gabbing until the last possible second and then dart for the buses just as we close the doors and start off.  It's a scene just ready made for disaster.  Somebody could easily be hit.  So of course "mrs outspoken Rose" said something to the dean on watch at the beginning of the year and she said they would stop them from going to the buses.  And I told the drivers to NOT open the door.  Well since Christmas break those kids are right back at today I said something to my dispatcher, she talked to the dean and announced to us all to not pick these kids up...of course some did, but at least it's a start and I don't have to worry about running some kid no wonder my neck hurts today!

All for now...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

today is the day

Today was the day that puts the fear in ALL bus driver's hearts!  Today I had to actually YELL!  Fear not I didn't crash the bus or hit anything.  I was driving merrily away from the high school when I smelled it..."it" was cigarette smoke, not pot, but cigarettes.  I was in a crabby mood as I did not sleep well last night and to tell the truth I am always taken aback when one of my charges does something so stupid as to think they can smoke in a closed up bus...I yelled so loud that the smokers even heard me and they were all the way in the back...I know who was doing it because these two spit on the floor and I've tried to ignore that...I yelled this..."Whoever is smoking needs to put it out now or I call the cops...I really don't feel like dying today if you start this bus on fire."  My new friend, the girl who moved up front to get away from the "pot smoking" talk said, "wow those guys are dumb a$$es".agreed...that's a 10-4.

They stopped but tomorrow I have decided to give them 3 choices, stop the behavior, move up front where I can babysit them or get written up...that should do the trick...the alternative?  Get a monitor, or a camera...neither one I don't want to do as I don't think it's necessary, these two or more dumb, then malicious.  My alternative kids don't even have the nerve to smoke on my bus.  Ish!

My stress level has been high anyway as there has been so much construction to deal with...but I solved my problem by giving away part of my kindergarten route to a newly formed route.  And getting 2 of my grade schooler picked up by the guy that should be picking them up, he's closer.  Then I can just drive and not worry about being late.

I am all about anti stress!

As for that $7000 bus?  It was up for bid on ebay, but there was only 14 hours left...and the price very cheap considering a top of the line 2005 bus is in the ball park of $90,000 almost as much as we paid for our house 10 years ago.

And the biscuit and gravey?  The best ones are from mom and pop places, this place was called Larry's diner...they used to make really good ones in town, but they don't make the biscuits fluffy enough.  I know it's a southern or midwest thing, because I know you can't get them out west.

That's one thing that a good bus driver knows is where the good food is you can tell by their weight...most are on the big side.  Goes with the job...until later...bus 30 is clear...

Saturday, January 8, 2005

Every since I started journaling I have had this infatuation with looking for cool pictures, graphics and clip art.  I found this bus on E-Bay ... they want $7000.00 for it and it's newer than the bus I drive (by 10 years) and has less miles (by 30 thousand)!  The inside looks better than mine too!! 

Hmmmm......:D  15 hours left to bid....

Which brings me to the 2nd half of my week.  We did not have a snow day.  = ( , but that's ok because I had fun driving in the snow.  And for once the junior high girl with the attitude didn't whine about how cold it was in my bus.  My bus is always cold because she is the first stop and it hasn't warmed up she never wears shoes (flip flops) or a proper coat.  Geez some of my high school kids didn't even wear coats!!!

I should have known better than to talk to the high school kids, now they think I am human and they can try and talk me into making new bus stops close to their way...I am not their friend...nor am I a push over...I always tell them to have their parents call the bus barns...that usually stops them...easy enough to push the dirty work onto the higher ups...I never try and be these kids friends nor their enemy ... they will turn on you in a heart beat...This one girl who always swears moved up front yesterday and was complaining about the boys talking about getting high after school, and I am like, "so? as long as they don't do it on the bus,"  Then she's trying to shock me by saying..."you'd be shocked to see how many of them come to school stoned"...hmmmm sorry little girl I grew up in the 70's most of the very High school she attends was stoned then!!  Kids they think that they are so unique...silly kids...

One of my alternative kids is going to jail...he has to go to drug rehab first...another one is trying finish up so she can get off probation, get a job before she has her baby in of them just got probation for bring a pipe to school...very sad too, because the one going to jail will just sit, but this kid is 18 and has been this way since he was 5...very sad.

Today I had it rough on my field trip...J/K!!, first I dropped Liz off at the school for her speech meet...then I drove around back to the bus barns, got bus 74 D.O.T'd, which by the way is a BRAND NEW BUS!, it has electric doors and all kinds of new modern gizmos on it.  I was a bit freaked by it first, but after I got used to the breaks I was good.  The other 2 juniors all went this was a wrestling tournament.  The school was about 15 minutes away.  When we got there the other 2 drivers and I went to breakfast...I had biscuits and gravy *yum*.  Then we went back and watched the meet for a while...I caught up with an old neighbor...then I went in the bus turned the heat on and took a hour and 1/2 nap...went back in to meet and then gathered the boys up and left...I worked a total of 9 1/2 hours...if you call that work...that's why I love my job!  How many people do you know who get to get paid to sit and wait??  Plus the coach walked the bus and picked up the garbage (very little).

Ahhhh such a hard life of a bus driver!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2005


Oswego, IL

Local WeatherNational WeatherWeather Maps

AOL Weather Alert Close Weather Alert !!! Weather Alert !!! WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 AM CST (7 AM EST) THURSDAY  


All day long the kids have been saying "snow day snow day!"

It's been snowing off and on since last night, with some freezing rain to add to the mix.

I had a rural route last year so I am used to driving in slippery just drive slower!  And remember you are driving something at is very big!

Twice last year I watch people spin out into ditches right before my eyes (as I prayed, please God please God don't let them hit me!, they didn't)

This afternoon I helped search for a Junior high kid.  The kid didn't show up at home so all the bosses, and who ever was nearby goes on alert to search for the child.

The police were called, soon as mom, the police and my boss all converged on this kid's apartment...poof the kid showed up...he was at a friend's house...which is usually how these things turn out. 

Another driver slid into another bus in our line ups at the High school...

And I am pooped, driving in this weather is very stressful, but all and all if I had to be driving in this weather I'd pick the 27,000 pound bus anytime.  And other driver's on the road tend to not flip you off when you are driving slow.  You have to be extra careful and safe, because others are not...and after all I am carrying special cargo...your children!!

The most percious thing we have!

So dear friends we shall see if tomorrow is a snow day....who knows the weather forecaster could be right!


Monday, January 3, 2005

Back after the break

This was a short break for us...normally it's 2 full weeks. We had to be in  school the Monday and Tuesday before Christmas so it was short by four days if you count the weekend, which I do!


This morning was rainy and cold, with a bit of fog.  The clock I use in my bus I left at home...and of course the clock I use at work on the wall was 4 minutes I had a slow start.  My first route are junior high kids...must of them have head phones stuck to their heads so they really are in their own world...alot of them have band instruments...some drivers make those kids sit up front, but I never care as long as everybody sits down I'm a-ok.  I have 45 kids on this route, which I am legal at 71, but being that most junior kids weigh on average 120's pretty tight on the bus...the big thing for junior kids is to socialize and I mean from the moment these kids step foot on the bus and even before at the bus stop they are talking, talking and more talking.  Even in the morning when you would think these kids would be half asleep, NOT my group...with that many kids they can get loud.  Which doesn't bother me, it's only when they start screeching that I get miffed.  Usually, they could not care less about me...I usually just nod or say good morning...they really only talk to me when they need me...which again is a-ok...I always call Junior the bowels of's such a crazy time for kids anyway.

This morning my left ear was plugged up, could be it made the first day back even better because it muffled the noise.  My junior high route is a quick one 10 minutes tops from first pick up to drop at the Junior High. 

Next I go to my High school these guys are quiet in the morning...some have their breakfast, and I let them eat on the bus, as long as they throw their trash time some kid let a peach snapple with some juice let lose on my floor and it rolled all over the bus.  I didn't notice until it had made a huge mess.  That was worth a trip to maintenance for a hose down.  These guys think they have me trained to pick them up in front of their was raining this morning so I let it slide today...nice days they need to be at their stop...rules are rules.  But again they are really a good group of kids.

After I drop off this group I have a small break...we are required to go to base, which is where we park our buses and we have a double wide trailer for a building.  Years past a lot of drivers went to Micky D's or Panara ( who can afford that EVERYDAY!), but it didn't look good with 10 buses lined up in a parking lot...besides one guy ruined it by getting in a fender bender.

Next is the grade school kids...which I have a very small group, but I do have a pick up at a local day care.  Part of the route has a bridge that has been closed to us for weight reasons, so I have to go around in circles to make 3 stops, which means I go over the railroad tracks 6 times in 3 different places.  Legally at train crossings we must display our hazard lights and stop and open our service door.  It's a BIG pain.  But these kids are worth it...they are really good.

So that my morning...I start a 6:28 and am done about 9:00, then I am off until 11:30, which is nice I can get errands done or go home and take a nap...I only live a mile away so its super great!