My First Bus Route

by Rhonda
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I started driving buses on 10/27/1976. My school bus was a Ford Bluebird #36 and I was on a country route #4 & #6 for the south east part of town. The little kids went to school on the south side of town and the high schoolers to the north central of town and the junior high to the west part of town.

My bus sat at the north end of the lot in the line up. I was past the building and straight across from me was a wrecked van that was used to transport the handicapped students. The front end was all smashed up and there was blood on it. The driver of that vehicle was killed. I never knew that driver, but each day before I left my stall, I sat and looked at that van ahead of me and was determined to never let that be me. I will do all I can with anything I am driving to return safe. Just because I am now in a big 60 seater bus, does not mean I am safe.

My route was 60 miles a day and I left the garage at 7 am each day. One winter day, school was let out early due to the rapidly deteriorating weather. I got all three groups on board and the town roads were bad. I knew what I would find once I got off the highway that I took for a short distance to get to the start of my country route. Sure enough when I came to my turn, there were just enough landmarks visable that I knew I could make that turn without going into the ditch. After getting on the road I had to stop to figure out where the road was and how close am was to the ditch. The snow was about 1 foot deep, it was getting deeper, and the wind was blowing. I grew up in the country and knew just how to handle this.

I got out and moved snow with my feet to the edge of the ditch so I could see exactly where I was on the road. Was I too far to the right or am I at the left edge of the road? After a few times of this, many of the kids wanted to help too. It was fun to them!

It was an adventure for me too, and no one was scared. Some wanted to ride the whole route with me since I had to back track by their homes again! I also had the defrosters going full blast on the windshield and the wipers going at times, and they were freezing up too. Just a typical Iowa winter storm. No big deal for me.

Each time that I stopped to make sure I was in the center of the road, I had my "helpers". I also did this at the intersections so I would know where to go, and at the driveways that I had to go into.

The weather kept getting worse, but I had no problems. At several of the stops, I gave the bus garage phone number to the kids for them or their parents to call in for me and report that all is OK since the route was taking a very long time to do. I asked them to please do this because I knew they would be wanting to know where we were.

Finally, I was through with the route and I had the kid at the last stop call in for me. When I made it back to the lot, I was the last one in and everyone was relieved. They said the kids and the parents called in with the reports and the parents also told them how I got the kids home with my method of checking the road to make sure I was in the middle of it. All were very happy with my ability to get them home safely.

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