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What’s in a typical day for a bus driver? The great big ask a bus driver thread!

  • 14-02-2022 6:41pm
    Registered Users Posts: 185 ✭✭

    What type of shifts are there?

    How does your day start and end?

    What happens if you need to use the loo?

    If your route is late due to no fault of your own and you have another route to do after your lunch, it’s not fair that you have to cut your lunch short.

    Do you get to choose your own route or at least give a preference?

    What do drivers of short and infrequent routes do? For example, the 33B.

    What happens when you get verbal abuse from passengers?

    What if a physical fight breaks out onboard? Can you (or should you) intervene? Obviously more dangerous for lady bus drivers.

    Is it nicer to operate urban routes (ie, Dublin Bus) or intercity ones? IE, GoBus etc.

    Bus driving is a job I have the utmost respect for. It’s tough, thankless and deserves admiration. I did my D licence and my nerves were shot. I can only imagine doing it on a daily basis. Well done to all.


  • Registered Users Posts: 323 ✭✭TranslatorPS

    NOT A DRIVER, but I'm going to provide a few answers that are just as well replied by a theoretician here:

    "What type of shifts are there?"

    Dublin Bus kind of has five groups of shifts - early, middle (relief), late, night, and "bogey". For the most part they're split by your finishing time. Bogeys are the only duties allowed to go over 10 hours of spreadover in DB, everything else must be within 9h59 from sign on to sign off. Monday to Friday early cars all finish by 16.00, bogeys by 20.00, middles by 22.00, lates were anything finishing after 22.00, but right now I understand that nights are basically anything operating services after 23.30. The early and bogey maximum finish times differ on weekends. On most larger schedules, the purpose of the bogey and middle duties is to provide extra staff for the peak hours, as well as relief the early and late duties for their mealbreaks (the irony in this statement is that usually it'll be the other way around once it comes to the bogeys and middles' breaks).

    Bus Eireann and Go-Ahead are not as strict in their characterisation. You'll find both companies to have typically early and typically late duties, but the stuff in between those two is varied and mixed. Neither company is as strict on the spreadover either. The more important thing is that if there are longer duties on the schedule, there should be shorter ones to make up the 39 hour week with as little planned overtime as possible. Bus Eireann also have a limited number of overnight duties, as they operate some 24/7 services.

    You'll find all three companies to have shorter shifts, closer to 4-6 hours in duration, without a mealbreak (just a single straight piece of work), although GAI has noticeably few of those. From a scheduling point of view, it's a necessary evil (in terms of efficiency versus paid hours), from the drivers' point of view they're reportedly a perk. They're a curiousity to me anyway, but from the scheduling point I see their necessity.

    "If your route is late due to no fault of your own and you have another route to do after your lunch, it’s not fair that you have to cut your lunch short."

    In general, Dublin Bus allows drivers to take the scheduled length of their break, even if it impacts on the service when they come back. If a driver agrees to return early, they must obey the minimum 45 minutes' rest anyway, as this is a legal requirement. I'm not sure how strict Bus Eireann are on the topic, but Go-Ahead are a little curious in how their breaks are sorted.

    "Do you get to choose your own route or at least give a preference?"

    Most duties are arranged on rotas, which only cover a single route or otherwise a strict group of routes. In Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann, due to the way their rotas are constructed (both companies use rota templates that are blocks of five weeks, i.e. your pattern of days off repeats every 5 weeks), there are therefore a number of drivers who work only that rota, and a number of drivers who work all the stuff that isn't included in those rotas, or are otherwise inserted onto rotas temporarily to cover otherwise unavailable permanent staff. Go-Ahead (and in limited scope - Bus Eireann, on outbases with small number of duties allocated) on the other hand are flexible in their rota construction and all service duties are on a rota from the very beginning.

    The point of this long-winded explanation is that in all of these companies drivers start as what's called "spare drivers" - drivers available to work anything that may be necessary (although in principle even then you're on some sort of a template of repeating days off). In the two CIE companies it's a slower process, in GAI a much faster one, but as drivers work their years, they can be offered available positions on the more limited rotas, and it's often possible that they might actually get to work a route or a number of routes to their particular liking. This is how seniority is usually shown through the ranks (well, in CIE at least).

    "What do drivers of short and infrequent routes do? For example, the 33B."

    Since you've given an example, the 33B is worked from the same rota as the 33A and 102. In reality this means that a single day might include any of the seven route combinations: 33A only, 33B only, 102 only, 33A+33B, 33A+102, 33B+102, or all three. On a more micro scale of things, routes like 33B are usually scheduled as efficiently as possible, so drivers are basically just doing more laps of the same service in the same shift length. // When 33B was operated by Dublin Bus, it was a standalone service in terms of staff planning, however, and so was the 102. The 33A was a gap-filler for the plain 33, mostly to keep buses and drivers moving between the not exactly most frequent Dublin-bound services.

    The rest is stuff I am in no position and shouldn't be answering ;)

  • Registered Users Posts: 185 ✭✭Green Finers

    Thanks! That’s really in depth. Where did you get your knowledge from?

  • Posts: 7,792 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Interesting topic

    Thanks to the 'first responder' with that detailed insight,,

    #pity he couldn't answer the only questions that most o' us who bookmarked thread wanted to know about..

    1, What to do if toilet break required

    2, How to deal with da scummers 😋

  • Registered Users Posts: 917 ✭✭✭Burt Renaults

    What happens if you need to use the loo?

    The company doesn't have much choice but to facilitate that. If there's nowhere acceptable to go, then they don't have much choice but to let the driver return to the garage and use the facilities there. It's not a problem I ever had though, because I'm an adult and I can always hold on until my break.

    What happens when you get verbal abuse from passengers?

    You've a right to do any customer-facing job without being on the receiving end of verbal abuse. I always took a zero tolerance approach to it. If a passenger ever swore at me (because the bus was late, or because some other bus that I had no control over didn't turn up), then I'd switch the engine off and tell them to leave the bus. I don't care if it's the last bus of the night and they've no other way of getting home. Once they abuse the person who's providing the service, they've forfeited the right to use the service. And that's what it is - a service, not a human right. The level of entitlement some people have towards public transport is shocking. Switching the engine off is the most effective weapon in any bus driver's arsenal. It solves all sorts of problems, from abusive passengers to smoking upstairs to fare evasion.

  • Registered Users Posts: 323 ✭✭TranslatorPS

    Documentation, observation, and conversation :3

    Yeah, sorry about that. I decided to throw in my three cents just because I felt I was in a position to provide a rather objective statement (and I also remember what happened half a year ago in the new DB scheduling agreement topic), but my first three words should have meant plenty ;)

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  • Posts: 7,792 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    It wasn't a complaint Translator.. fair play for posting ! The lav and the langer bit of the OP were the only points I was interested in seeing an answer to.. that's just me tho' ,, can't speak for everyone else - even though I thought I was ! 😃

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭dashcamdanny


    What most guys do about toilet breaks is go upstairs and use a bottle or coffee cup. Most services dont have any toilets. Dublin Bus have been asked for years to correct this, but simply will not invest in toilets for drivers. If you noticed a few years ago London Bus spent alot of money of facilities for drivers, which came in shortly after they brought in the new buses with windows running up the side of the stairs. Which the only place for privacy. I dont think that was a coincidence . You can request to control to drive to the nearest CIE facility. But in reality. If you need to take a pee a couple of times a day. Most of the trips will be cancelled so you can use a toilet. Some do it. Most dont. If you are female, be prepared to cross your legs ..

    Dealing with Scummers.

    In reality, you will come across conflict, which is not common or confined to working class areas. Upper class areas can be the worst.

    You will receive training on how to deal with people. The key is to be firm and professional. Some guys get into arguments daily, other never.

    If your bus gets rushed by a load of none paying kids or even a single individual, simply ask them to return to you. Failing that turn the radio up full, hit the button and get advise from control. They will call the Garda and be very vocal about it. This always resolves itself IMO.

    Key is to not get upset and make sure you are in the right as its difficult to back down in front of an audience. Never , ever leave your cab. And remember. All fares go to the NTA. NOT the company you work for.

    You will have sleepers , drunks and junkies in your bus , but in all honestly, they are rarely a safety concern.

    Its the tired pi**ed off commuter or elderly that usually kicks off. In my experience.

  • Registered Users Posts: 863 ✭✭✭cbreeze

    Sometimes on very cold and wet days the driver will open up the bus and let the passengers on a few minutes before the bus is due to pull away. But mostly the driver will will sitting in the cab or even upstairs out of sight until it is at just a minute or two to departure time before the door is opened and the service number appears on the side panel. Would there be a rule about when a driver might admit the passengers?

    It would be understandable if the driver was on a break, of course.

  • Posts: 7,792 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    thanks for explaining there danny 😊 no toilets is a tough one ! turn the radio up on the scummers,, 😃

  • Registered Users Posts: 917 ✭✭✭Burt Renaults

    At a terminus, I would usually park as far away from the bus stop as possible, and make sure that the scroll says "Out of Service" until I was at the bus stop, ready to let them board. Five minutes before departure is the ideal. But it depends. If another bus was due to depart just before me, I always waited until after that bus started boarding. This was to avoid confusion.

    I never let anyone on more than 5 minutes before departure time. And if anyone banged on the door, I'd blank them.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,082 ✭✭✭mikeybhoy

    Or put up the route number of a different route entirely to really fcuk with their head

  • Registered Users Posts: 323 ✭✭TranslatorPS

    I heard a rule about "2 minutes before departure time" having been mentioned outside this forum, but I'm equally willing to think that was referring to a scheduling aspect and not actual ops. In saying that, I have seen drivers not admit pax on board until 2 minutes before departure time.

    As for breaks, by the very nature of both Irish and European driving time laws, all breaks are (should be) taken off the bus. Terminus layover is still paid time.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,082 ✭✭✭mikeybhoy

    Since city buses aren't on tachos all time spent on duty with the bus is considered driving.

    It depends on the country in Italy for example the driver will leave the bus unattended for passengers to board until the departure time before setting off. Here in Ireland the driver generally won't allow passengers to board until the departure presumably because drivers here have to deal with fares.

  • Registered Users Posts: 323 ✭✭TranslatorPS

    Oh yes, certainly. Either way, my last remark was for @cbreeze's benefit and alluding to the fact that if a driver's sitting on a bus at the terminus, it's more than likely he's allowed to under internal rules rather than an actual break from the point of driving time regulations.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭dashcamdanny

    We dont have to let anyone on till the minute of departure. Its a time the driver can chill out and relax before dealing with the public, traffic and so one.

  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭pjcb

    Strange that they mention Howth not having toilet facilities... Have bus drivers ever not been allowed to relieve themselves in the Howth Summit pub or reluctant to go in there for some reason? (and there are public toilets a short walk up the hill now).

  • Registered Users Posts: 95 ✭✭hairymaryberry

    Is the pub open at 7 in the morning, what about 9am, is it open then?

    Are the public toilets open all hours or locked up? Do you have to pay to use these public toilets?

  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭pjcb

    Good point pub opens at 12, the 2 public toilets are free, not sure on opening times, the shop would be the other option but that only opens at 8.

    Thought occurred to me although it would cost a huge amount to buy the old Station masters house that seems derelict at the summit and turn it into a mini depot, I wouldn't have thought it would be great place to live, surrounded by roads on all sides, and having buses stopping all day, but it sold for 420k! and I see an extension application has been granted... F21B/0061 last year.

    Post edited by pjcb on