Learning to become a bus driver involves more than you may realise. To become a bus or coach driver you need good skills with people and vehicles. If you are interested in becoming a bus driver or if you would like to find out just what it takes details follow on how to become a bus driver.
If you are interested in becoming a bus or coach driver you should hold a current licence for a car and be an experienced driver. If you are successful with your application your employer will usually enrol you on the PCV course where you will learn how to drive a bus or coach.
The PCV training will usually take around six weeks and involves a medical exam, theory test and a practical test. If your employer cannot enrol you to study for the PCV you can arrange to study and complete the tests privately. If you are unemployed you may be able to have the PCV training and test funded via a New Deal arrangement.
Once you are qualified you will have an induction where you will learn customer service skills, how to operate equipment, health and safety issues and other basics. Once you have completed your PCV licence and you are employed you can start to study towards an NVQ level 2 in Road Passenger Transport. With this course you can choose units and specialise in one field such as bus or coach driving, community transport or customer care.
Bus drivers usually work in shifts where they will do similar routes on outbound and return journeys. At the beginning of a shift the bus driver will usually check that their bus is in good working order. Bus drivers need to be punctual in order to arrive at each of the stops in time and may have to wait if traffic is less busy than expected and they arrive at stops too early.
Bus drivers need to have good communication skills and be approachable. Bus drivers will issue tickets and try to deal with enquiries from customers so a good knowledge of local areas and services is necessary. Bus drivers may also be required to assist disabled or elderly people getting onto and off the bus as well as people with prams or excessive loads of luggage.
Coach driver's daily tasks vary somewhat from bus drivers. Coach drivers may drive the same route each day or they may drive somewhere new each day. Coach drivers may be more involved in customer service than bus drivers and may have skills in areas such as first aid or knowledge on tourist destinations. Coach drivers usually help passengers unload and load their luggage which will require a good level of general health and strength.
Working as a bus or coach driver can offer some interesting career prospects. Some coach drivers may be hired to take trips abroad. This will require knowledge of the language of the country you're visiting as well as the traffic laws. Some bus and coach drivers also specialise in community transport. This typically involves driving school buses, hospital transport or community mobility transport.
If you are unqualified or have had a substantial break from bus driving there are opportunities to learn more or refresh your skills. The Edexcel BTEC Level 2 in Transporting Passengers by Bus and Coach is a short course that covers and expands on basic knowledge.
Career development can lead onto becoming a service controller, bus inspector or driving instructor. You can also study towards becoming self employed and starting your own bus or coach company.