Pre Trip

Every time a bus is checked out of the facility, it has to have a pre-trip inspection. A pre-trip inspection is done to insure the busses fitness for use. Checking and filling out the VIR (Vehicle Inspection Report), touching on some of the mechanical systems on the bus, emergency equipment, electrical systems, cleaners and route books, buttons and flashers. Each driver has their own way to pre-trip a bus but there are also those who pre-trip a bus by not pre-tripping.

I always get very embarrassed when I get out to my route and find I’ve forgotten something. To make sure I don’t forget that again, I get on the radio and ask that the item I’ve forgotten is sent out with another driver. I can always tell when another driver was too embarrassed to admit and ask for help, when you arrive at a transit center and that driver is going from bus to bus looking for an item he or she forgot.

I learned early on to check the buses VIR book as soon as you get inside, just doing that has averted some shaky situations very quickly. A good example would be to go back to one particular morning I was about to pre-trip a bus for route 7. There was a forty series bus sitting next in line to go out (#44 if I remember rightly). I did a walk around the outside then hopped up into the doorway. Back to habit, I reached for the VIR book. Noted in the book earlier that morning in big letters “BUS WON’T START” hmm, seems obvious to me there’s a problem so I jumped out and went to another bus. I left the VIR book on the seat so the next person would have to look at it before sitting down.

The next person to enter that bus was one of the older drivers, by that I mean one that has been driving longer than me. Well, I don’t know why she didn’t look at the VIR book but went ahead and tried to start the bus anyway. To my amazement, the driver cranked and cranked on that busses starter until the battery was too low to crank it anymore. Further to amaze me, instead of going to another bus to get ready for her route, she opted to just sit there and call for help on the radio! The response to her cries for help was predictable, she was told to write it up in the VIR book and move to another bus. I guess she wasn’t quite awake yet.

Flat Tires

I am beginning to think I’m the only driver who gets flat tires. During the short period of time I worked for Transfort, I have had a multitude of flats! Most of my flats have been discovered before the bus has gone out, another good reason for a pre-trip. I carry a small hammer in my Transfort bag just for checking the tires of whatever bus I’m driving. It’s pretty easy to see when you have a flat on the front but with duels on the rear, flats aren’t quite so easy to spot.

When a flat is detected, 700 (mechanics) will try to determine whether it can be driven on. If it’s an inside wheel and you are close to finishing up, they will just tell you to write it up when you get in. If you detect an inside flat early in your day, 700 will bring you out another bus. At any time if you get a flat on an outside duel, 700 will go out of their way to get you another bus as outside duel flats can cause tire fires.

Not long ago, I was coming to the end of my shift of an afternoon Route 9. Just before shift end on Route 9, the Route 9 driver will offer to exchange his or her unit with Route 14. The mini bus that is used on Route 14 during the day won’t make it to the end of it’s shift without running out of fuel so a bus exchange is completed in the field. After making the exchange I headed for Epic Arena (Route 9 ends at Epic). All the way up to Epic the steering on the mini (unit 34) felt sluggish, so at Epic I did a “walk-around” before heading for the “barn.” The front right tire looked low. After filling out all the days paperwork, I went into Epic to use their facilities. Upon return, the tire looked even lower. With a call in to “500”, a tow truck was dispatched, or at least one was supposed to have been dispatched.

Every half an hour after the initial call I would call in again to let 500 know I was still waiting. With the temperature hovering around zero, waiting in an incapacitated bus feels like a really long time. My last call into 500 I informed them I was still “standing by” and inquired if I would be home for breakfast, I don’t think they appreciated that. Not more than fifteen or twenty minutes later the tow truck arrived to save the day.


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Copyright 2009 Pokie Parmidge