Transit Bus Driver: Job Description & Career Info

Learn about a career as a transit bus driver. See what the education and training requirements are. Get information about career prospects and earning potential to see if this is the right job for you.

Career Definition for a Transit Bus Driver

A transit bus driver transports passengers between designated bus stops while adhering to an established time schedule and route. They may travel within a single city or follow routes between neighboring cities or states. A transit bus driver not only operates the bus but also the doors to allow passengers to exit and enter the bus; he or she receives fares, reports to dispatchers any delays or mechanical problems with the bus, and responds to emergency situations. Transit bus drivers might be county or city employees, or they may work in the private sector.

Education No college degree is required, however, prospective drivers must complete extensive training and obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL)
Job Skills Oral and written communication skills, customer service, patience, decision-making skills, ability to operate efficiently and adhere to a strict timetable
Mean Salary (May 2015)* $40,160 (bus drivers, transit and intercity)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (bus drivers, transit and intercity)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Required Education

Though no college degree is required to become a transit bus driver, many professional driving schools offer courses in bus driving. One must complete extensive training and obtain the necessary license designations in order to become a transit bus driver, such as a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). An employer training program for a transit bus driver will include study of federal and state regulations in a classroom setting as well as a predetermined number of hours of behind-the-wheel and simulated training.

Skills Required

A transit bus driver needs to have excellent oral and written communication, customer service, and decision-making skills. They should have the ability to operate efficiently and adhere to a strict timetable. A transit bus driver must not be easily distracted or grow frustrated if traffic or mechanical problems cause delays.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) predicts that job growth for transit bus drivers will be 6% from 2014-2024, as cities are expected to become more populated and the need and popularity of mass transit expands. Opportunities will be most prevalent in cities experiencing the highest population expansion. The mean annual salary for intercity and transit bus drivers was reported as $40,160 by the BLS in May 2015.

Alternative Career Options

Individuals interested in a bus driving career might also consider operating subways or becoming truck drivers.

Subway or Streetcar Operator

A job as a subway or streetcar operator can be attained with a high school diploma and extensive employer-provided training; in some cases, one year of bus driver experience is required. Subway or streetcar operators drive trains that pick up and drop off passengers at designated stops along an underground or above-ground route. They follow traffic signals along the track, watch for passenger safety as they enter and exit train cars, transmit problems to dispatchers, make stop and service announcements to passengers, and, in the event of an emergency, evacuate passengers safely. According to the BLS, jobs in this field are expected to increase 5% from 2014-2024, and workers in this occupation earned an average salary of $60,580 in 2015.

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver

A job as a heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver requires a CDL and two years of relevant experience; professional truck driving schools also offer training. Specialized training leads to endorsements that authorize heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers to transport specialty freight, such as hazardous materials. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers load and unload freight, transport it long distances in trucks that have a capacity of 26,001 pounds per gross vehicle weight (GVW) or greater, plan their own routes to meet assigned delivery locations and times, maintain activity logs, and keep in touch with dispatchers. The BLS predicts that these jobs will increase at a rate of 5% from 2014-2024. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers earned an average salary of $42,500 in 2015, per the BLS.

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