"I'm New" is only going to last me so long...

I recently got promoted at my job. I drive buses in the Bay Area for a local transit authority. For eight months, I was on easy street- the type of routes assigned were quiet, and at convenient schedules. Each day for months on end I essentially drove the same route, so even though I have a pretty bad sense of direction, it was fairly easy to get the hang of remembering how to get from point A to point B. Even if I zoned out and missed a turn, the vehicle I had was small and nimble enough to hang a U turn or cut through a parking lot to get back on route.

Now, I’m driving much busier routes, and doing just about every damn thing under the sun here. Don’t get me wrong, I like the variety, its just memorizing all these routes that kills me. We have 77 different routes we drive. Many old-timers here pretty much know all of them- they can get called to go to X street and do route so-and-so, and they’re off.

I’m still woefully unfamiliar with the routes, and have to scribble out ‘route cards’ so that I know where to go. But since I memorize driving directions through repetition, and since I often only drive 1-2 round trips of any given route at a time, its been taking me very long to remember even the simplest of routes here. I’m a little worried that “I’m new” isn’t going to fly for long, since I will be getting awarded a “1 year safe driving” patch on my uniform soon :cool:

Wow, that sounds like a pretty disorganized setup.

I work for a transportation authority (admin, not driving, but you pick things up), and not only are drivers assigned to specific routes that only change once or twice a year, there are detailed stop sheets that are available for every single route. The sheets list driving directions and all timepoints on the route.

There are some drivers that do not have assigned routes. They are on-call to fill in for any regular drivers that call in sick, take buses out to replace ones that break down or are involved in an accident, etc., but they have the sheets that tell them exactly where and when they need to be.

I don’t see how any transit agency could manage without them.

Can you use a GPS, or is that against the rules? I’m pretty sure some of them allow you to program a route to follow, not just a destination. And one that has a routing feature should also prompt you with the turns, so you wouldn’t need to be looking at it all the time.

You’d think they could install some GPS mapping device to make complex routes easy for the drivers.

Word! I just installed one in my wifes car and it was 125.00 from QVC. Kind of impressive considering the one in my ride is a factory unit and doesn’t have flat ground capability. It came with a lighter plug and the ability to update from the internet via a USB cable.

Clarification: We do have a driver’s handbook that gives directions for everywhere. My point is that its not exactly practical to be holding the book in one hand and trying to drive a bus in the other. I try to write out ‘route cards’ to make it easy for me to read ‘R/Anystreet L/North Ave’ etc until I memorize the route but it takes a while.

The bus does have a GPS unit, which, while tracking its location to dispatch does not tell ME where I am. the only info it provides is whether I am on-route or off-route. The bus also announces major intersections as I approach them (sometimes helpful, if the street I’m turning onto has a hard-to-see sign).

We’re not allowed to use our own GPS, it counts as ‘using an electronic device while operating a revenue vehicle’ which is punishable by a 3-day suspension (they basically lumped cell phones, ipods, and anything else like that in one broad category to discourage their use). The idea is, I guess, they don’t want me so disracted I hit something while I’m trying to figure out what part of town I’m in.

I dunno, enjoy the chaos while it lasts.

Sorry if this borders on a hijack. I drive suburban passenger trains, and I’m in the opposite position to you. When I started, we had to learn the whole Sydney suburban network. I know you don’t have to steer a train, but route knowledge is still an important part of the job. I was a little lucky in that I already knew about half of the network from a previous job. It was still a lot to take in though. When I was let loose (2002), we covered most of the network on a regular basis. Every day was something different.

Unfortunately, several factors led to declining reliability of the service, and one of the solutions was sectorisation of train crew. My depot is at the far end of one of the lines. To start with they just kept us on our local line on the weekends, and we still roamed free during the week. Then they reversed that and kept us on our own lines during the week, with weekend wandering to try and keep us current with other parts of the system. The weekend jobs often get cancelled and turned back into local ones when there are engineering closures of parts of the system (which is about every second weekend). Things have improved with reliability, but mostly this is because of changes other than the sectorisation. The sectorisation part only really helped when the arse fell out, and that doesn’t tend to happen now, so they could go back to the greater variety with little impact on service, but they don’t.

So I’ve gone from being new and having a large area with a lot of variety (a dozen lines and four different kinds of trains), to being one of the more experienced drivers, stuck on one line (with only two different train types). It’s a repetitive job, and I really miss that variety now.

I feel for anyone who has to drive a bus though. You guys have to steer! :eek:

Oh, well in that case, do continue reading the handbook while driving! Makes perfect sense. :rolleyes:

(That rolleyes is for their policy, not towards you)

Congratulations on your promotion! It sounds like you’re doing fine, but if you get to feeling overwhelmed, it seems like you could ask them to, say, try to keep you on the south side of town consistently for a while to reduce the chaos.