We’re excited to share the remarkable story of one of our school bus drivers, Mark. He embodies the spirit of dedication and passion that defines our team, showcasing the impact school transportation drivers make through meaningful connections. Get ready to be inspired, as Mark sheds light on the fun and heartwarming moments that unfold on our buses each and every day.
My name is Mark and I’m a school bus driver for Roxborough/417 Bus Lines. I’ve been driving for about 6-7 months. I’m a retired paramedic from Northern Ontario and moved to Ottawa about 7 years ago. I set up a wood shop in our garage and built numerous projects over the last few years. The most challenging being two wood strip canoes.
After the pandemic started to slow down, I heard, not only on the news but from friends, about the severe school bus driver shortage. I saw firsthand the hardship this created in some families. Trying to get two or three kids to two different schools was neigh on impossible for some parents. I looked it up online and there was a tremendous amount of cancelled routes out there due to lack of drivers. I thought the problem would go away but it didn’t. I always did like to drive so I signed up. This job fits me perfectly because I get the summers off so I can go up north to our cabin. I haven’t retired from my second job as a professional fireworks display supervisor, so having the summers off allows me to keep doing firework displays around Ontario.
Once I made the decision to become a school bus driver, my wife and I researched the companies around the area and figured that Roxborough/417 Bus Lines would make a good fit.
After the interview at Roxborough, my training started. My trainer (Patty) was most excellent! She made me feel comfortable and made absolutely sure that I was comfortable driving the bus. The only somewhat difficult part was watching the training videos. By the end of the videos, I developed a twitch and had to double some of my meds. But Patty was tough. She has to be. She hung in there. I only had to watch the videos once. Patty has to watch them several times.
After my training was complete and I passed the road test, I was kicked out of the nest (it was a very gentle kick😊). I was nervous at first. I asked for a rural route, which they gave me. I went out with another driver to learn the route. He was excellent and made sure I felt comfortable before I went out on my own.
My nervousness lasted about a week. Once I was familiar with the route my nerves settled, I settled, and I hunkered down.
I find that driving the bus is quite enjoyable. I do two routes: a high school route and an elementary school route. The high school kids are great. They’re quiet and hardly ever late.
The elementary kids are a riot. I like to tell them a joke every day, and we talk about interesting things. Things like: continental drift and the effect on the North American Chipmunk (turns out there is no effect), Sasquatch…are they real? I told them I thought I saw a Sasquatch a few years back in a farmer’s field. Turns out it was just two cows having a really good day. I will admit there are times the kids start to get a little rambunctious. When they hear me speak using my Batman voice they realize it’s time to calm down.
The bus I drive is a smaller bus. Any time there’s an issue with the bus the mechanics get it fixed pretty quick. The mechanics are easy to deal with and are very friendly. But they did turn down my request for a Bose Multi-directional high fidelity stereo system.
The dispatchers are very good at their job and very professional. They can solve any issues pretty quick. I’m certain I’d develop a twitch if I had their job!
I believe every bus yard has a Yard Supervisor. The Yard Supervisor where I park my bus at the end of the day is great! She always checks in on me to see if there’s any issues or if I have any questions. If I need any supplies she’d round them up for me or if there’s a problem with the bus she’d find a resolution quickly.
Everyone I dealt with at Roxborough/417 Bus Lines has been very professional and very friendly. Other drivers are quite happy to share their tips and to answer any ‘under the radar’ types of questions (I would assume that the preceding sentence has management wondering…). It really is a great job to have. So if you’ve been looking for a fun way to Experience Your Own Story, come drive with us!