Insider Exclusive: Exploring a Career as a Motorcoach Operator

Insider Exclusive: Exploring a Career as a Motorcoach Operator

By Chad Cushman, Indian Trails

“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day.”

Chances are, you’ve heard this adage or some variation of it. Maybe it was a career counselor, a coach, or even your grandpa who told you that if you make your living doing something you enjoy, it won’t feel like work. Well, sometimes life gets in the way and work does feel like work. But it’s never too late to discover that thing you love to do and learn to do it well. Whether you’re new to the job market, switching careers, or considering an “encore” post-retirement gig, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you enjoy meeting new people?
  • Do you like seeing new places?
  • Are you comfortable being in charge?
  • Are you an independent spirit who is also willing to dot your i’s and cross your t’s?
  • Do you have an aptitude for machinery and/or technology?
  • Have you ever felt “called” by the open road?
  • Do you love to drive?

If you racked up more yes’s than no’s, a career as a motorcoach driver may be ideal for you.

Charter Bus Drivers 

The primary job of a charter bus driver is to safely transport groups of people from Point A to Point B—frequently covering a long distance. You may be moving executives, sports teams, school children, or church groups, sometimes on a regular basis. For example, you may be the operator who drives the charter bus for a particular school’s out-of-town field trips. You may take a certain group of executives to their quarterly sales meeting or retreat. 

The Upside
Charter bus drivers enjoy the privilege and responsibility of operating a 20-ton piece of high-tech machinery for the purpose of getting people where they need to go. You may become familiar with certain routes and enjoy the ease that comes with expertise. If you become a “regular” with a school or firm, you may get to know certain groups of passengers personally. For example, if you drive a sports team to all of their away games, you will get to know the players and coaches. You’ll cheer on their wins and commiserate with their losses.

The Downside
Long drives can be fatiguing. They can get boring. With little exercise and few breaks, school kids may get restless, executives may get irritable, sports teams may get rambunctious. But the driver must always stay alert, even-tempered, and in charge.

Inside
Today’s charter buses are big—with anywhere from 45 to 57 seats, a roomy interior, and luxury appointments like reclining seats with footrests and headrests, individual climate and lighting controls, cup holders, an onboard restroom, and underbody storage space for luggage. Amenities typically include Wi-Fi, 110V outlets, public address systems, and DVD players, plus safety features like directional and diagnostic GPS.

Outside
Charter bus drivers usually travel long distances on major freeways and must navigate local traffic upon arriving at the destination venue.

Tour Bus Drivers

Groups engage tour buses to travel outside of their usual environment for the purpose of leisure or business. Tourists may hire a tour bus for vacation travel, group tours, or family reunions; companies may charter one for business trips or conventions. A tour bus driver plays a part in the overall customers experience and is expected to know the local sites and attractions, answer questions, and help passengers find their way through unknown territory.

The Upside
Tour bus passengers are often on vacation, pursuing an adventure, or doing something fun. They are likely to be in good spirits and enjoying themselves. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed.

The Downside
Tours to specific destinations may take you to out-of-the-way places where you can’t use shortcuts or by-pass construction. You may be dealing with inclement weather, poor road conditions, or bad traffic. When people drink and relax, there’s often someone who gets a little too rowdy.

Inside
A tour bus may be a full-sized luxury motorcoach or a smaller vehicle such as minibus or minicoach. Whatever the size, a tour bus typically has amenities such as reclining seats, climate and lighting controls, tinted windows, free Wi-Fi, and DVD players. Depending on the size of the coach and the types of tours, the tour bus may or may not be equipped with an onboard restroom. On tours, passengers often bring food and beverages on board to create a relaxed and hospitable environment.

Outside
Tour groups depend on tour bus drivers to get them to all kinds of places. It might be an afternoon museum visit, a winery tour, a sightseeing trip, or a shopping excursion—so drivers will find themselves in urban centers, on rural roads, and everywhere in between.

Shuttle Bus Driver

Shuttle transportation gets people back and forth between one designated point to another, typically at regular intervals. So, a shuttle bus driver might transport patrons from off-site parking to concerts, ball games, art fairs, and other attractions. They might move business groups from one venue to another during conventions and tradeshows. Or they may provide regular shuttle service for university students, residents of an apartment complex, or shoppers.

The Upside
You will become an expert on your particular route. You’ll learn all the “ins and outs” and get to know many of your regular passengers. The driver plays a key role in delivering a needed service that is intended for the comfort and convenience of customers. Drivers get satisfaction from helping people get where they need to go, especially those who may have no other transportation options.

The Downside
A pre-determined schedule and specified route leave no room for bad travel conditions, street closures, or the like. Passengers may be rushed and stressed. Buses may get crowded, with passengers standing. Passengers who have to wait for the next shuttle may be irritable or even belligerent. No matter what the situation, the driver has to stay calm, polite, and in charge.

Inside
A shuttle bus can be anything from a passenger van to a full-size motorcoach. It is its function—not necessarily its size— that makes it a shuttle bus.

Outside
Concerts, art fairs, shopping centers, casinos … wherever lots of people need a lift, that’s where shuttle buses go.

Driving a motorcoach is not for everyone. But if you’re a people person and a leader, if you’re calm under pressure, and, above all, if you love to drive, a career as a motorcoach operator just might be that job that doesn’t feel like work.

This article used by permission of the author. You can read the full article by clicking here.

ABA member Indian Trails operates approximately 62 coaches from three modern facilities in Owosso, Kalamazoo, and Metro Detroit. The company is now in its third generation of continuous family ownership.

About the American Bus Association

The American Bus Association (ABA) is the trade organization of the intercity bus industry, with more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour company members in the United States and Canada. Its members operate charter, tour, regular route, airport express, special operations and contract services. Another 2,800 members are travel and tourism organizations and suppliers of bus products and services who work in partnership with the North American motorcoach industry.

Contact

Melanie Hinton, Director of Communications & Media Relations, ABA
Office: (202) 218-7220
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)