March 28, 2013 - 3:41 PM
By Jessica Wallace
I better stick to my day job.
While hopping behind the wheel of a Kamloops city bus today at the invitation of B.C. Transit to experience what it's like to be a bus driver, I realized - it's every bit as hard as you'd think.
Taking the seat and hitting the gas for the first time, the first thing I noticed was how big I felt behind the slow-moving, mega-mass I'd taken charge of.
Suddenly I was this huge, heavy beast of a machine, and I felt powerful behind that big wheel. Feeling that power was exciting, but realizing the potential for damage was terrifying.
Five obstacles were set up in the parking lot at the Ord Road bus depot.
"It's a little education awareness," said Meribeth Burton, B.C. Transit spokesperson.
She said many people don't understand all the factors that come from driving a 40-foot half a million dollar bus - "a really complex job."
Now, I do.
A trainer walked me through the scenarios, we set up my mirrors and seat, and we were off.
My first turn was a learning experience.
I eased into it, but took for granted how much space you need to make the smallest of turns in such a big vehicle.
Apparently you have to swing ridiculously far out in the opposite direction to compensate and maneuver the massive extension of yourself that is the bus. It feels like you're going to destroy everyone and everything in your path - just for one single turn.
So that first turn was a major fail - goodbye cone.
As was picking up the passenger on the side of the curb - where did that fake parked car come from?
And driving through the tennis balls.
And coming to a stop six inches from a cone.
Backing up wasn't too bad, despite the lack of the familiar ability to shoulder check.
When I made it to the end of the road, my boss, my driving trainer and I all surprisingly walked away scratch free. Which is more than I can say for the cone casualties that got in my path. Luckily, the five cones that I squished only represented pedestrians.
**Ironically, I placed second out of five media represenatives that participated in the second annual B.C. Transit Roadeo.
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