As one driver who worked in a location in Rochester, NY and hired by then company Laidlaw, working as a bus driver was a great job with a company that stood behind you and continually showed their appreciation to you. The pay was enough to live on, the hours as a driver were good and most there loved what they did. The buses were safe, for the most part. There were challanges like every job, but you felt you were doing something worthwhile, while also putting food on the table at home and getting your bills paid. Then along comes First Student and buys it out. And through the first few years, things start changing. First a vest we were required to wear, then a hand held zonar replacing a paper precheck. These were not bad changes. In the long run, they were more efficient, paperless and with the vests, safer. But then gradually, mechanics were being let go, hours of shop changed to only during the business hours of operation of 5am to 6pm M-F. Where as before, they operated 6 or 7 days a week and until many times 8pm. Then old buses were not being replaced, and buses were being sent out unsafe. And then supervisors out on the road were not many times being sent to drivers who needed disruptive students removed off their buses. Often times we were told, if we don’t like it, we could go down the road and work for the other bus company who didn’t pay enough to surrvive on, but still demanded the same duties. The local management the same so we assumed they were getting their marching orders from the top. This was a stressful dilema for drivers to be in and couldnt deliver the same quality of service because of the stress they were under, the firings began and now management was hiring new drivers for less with less benifits. As the profits started increasing, managment began investing in some new buses that had the drivers side view mirror creating a huge blind spot in the drivers side window. Thus the new buses were not as safe as the older ones were when they were purchased by the former company, Laidlaw. With all the complaints by parents about the drivers, I can only say that much of that was due to the stress put on the drivers by a company that viewed them without the same respect the former company had showed. They also cut the amount of hours for refreshers and saftey meetings drastically. Thus drivers were not as prepared as they were under the former company, and I believe that affected service also . My supervisor wanted to pry into my personal life by questions he asked which made me uncomfortable and feel discriminated against. Once, I was given a bus that made myself and a few kids sick. I was also told to continue on a few times when a battery door was swinging open. A good dspatcher who could not handle the unscruptulous changes that were implemented by First Student quit. Now after not now having a job, I have much debt, cannot find another transportation job since and really feel like a very good thing went sour for me and I am concerned for the children of America being left in the hands of a service that is not retaining drivers or delivering the same quality of service. I think if too high of wages were the issue, then a comprimise should have been reached to attain the same level of professionalism and quality of service. There is much more I could say but feel my future in any transportation field in the future could be jepordized and who knows what other ramifications could come from a very big a powerful world wide company if I do, as it would most likely reveal my idenity.
575 Colfax St. Rochester, New York USA