California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity in California

May also be called: Bus Drivers; Bus Operators; Transit Bus Operators

Specialties within this occupation include: Charter Bus Drivers; Shuttle Bus Drivers

What Would I Do?

Bus Drivers operate diesel, compressed natural gas (CNG), or electric vehicles which provide transportation for people either within or between cities. They drive buses for local transit systems, intercity bus companies, and tour bus companies. Bus Drivers pick up and drop off passengers at bus stops or stations, according to strict time schedules. Regardless of traffic conditions, Drivers must not get ahead of schedule because it may cause them to miss passengers. Drivers must operate vehicles safely, sometimes in heavy traffic. Bus Drivers work with a range of vehicles from 15-passenger buses to 60-foot articulated buses that can carry more than 100 passengers.

All Bus Drivers keep records, such as travel distance, driving time, and total amount of fares received. They also report any mechanical problems or needed repairs, keep the bus clean, and make minor repairs while on the road.

Local Transit Bus Drivers transport passengers along scheduled routes, usually within an urban area. They collect and hand out transfers, keep an eye on the cash box for correct fare, provide change for passengers, and verify that bus passes are valid. Drivers may call out names of major streets along their route or announce stops, answer questions regarding routes, schedules, transfer points, and fares.

Intercity Bus Drivers transport passengers between cities and States. They relate schedules, routes, fares, and other information concerning the trips. Drivers also pick up and drop off packages, load and unload baggage, and collect cash fares from passengers.

Charter Bus Drivers take a group of passengers to their destination. They remain at the location until the group is ready to return. These Drivers routinely interact with customers and tour guides to make the trip as comfortable and informative as possible. They may travel long distances for several days at a time, which may require overnight stays.

Shuttle Bus Drivers operate buses of various sizes between set destinations. Possible destinations include passengers' homes, health clinics, adult day care centers, hotels, fairgrounds, airport terminals, and parking lots. They follow and keep to time schedules and route assignments. Shuttle Bus Drivers make sure passengers have seat belts fastened properly and wheelchairs are secured to restraining devices. They lift luggage and personal belongings to and from the bus to help passengers. Drivers use hydraulic lifts and their own strength to help clients on and off the bus and into buildings.

Shuttle Bus Drivers collect fares and keep a daily log of passengers they assist. They perform routine mechanical checks on the vehicle, such as checking the brakes, windshield wipers, and hydraulic lifts as well as add gasoline or oil regularly. Drivers use radio devices or cellular phones to report interruption of service or request medical help. They may also help with other duties such as custodial and building maintenance.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Inspect vehicles, and check gas, oil, and water levels prior to departure.Operation Monitoring
Drive vehicles over specified routes or to specified destinations according to time schedules in order to transport passengers, complying with traffic regulations.Transportation
Park vehicles at loading areas so that passengers can board.Depth Perception
Assist passengers with baggage and collect tickets or cash fares.Customer and Personal Service
Advise passengers to be seated and orderly while on vehicles.Speech Clarity
Report delays or accidents.Public Safety and Security
Regulate heating, lighting, and ventilating systems for passenger comfort.Control Precision
Load and unload baggage in baggage compartments.Static Strength
Make minor repairs to vehicle and change tires.Equipment Maintenance
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Current laws limit driving time to a maximum of ten consecutive hours. However, this is only after eight consecutive hours off-duty. Drivers who work a ten-hour shift may experience fatigue, particularly when driving in poor conditions. All Bus Drivers can be subject to occasional stress caused by disagreeable or disorderly passengers. Also, they may experience stress from long hours of driving combined with factors such as bad weather, heavy traffic conditions, time schedule commitments, and delays. Local Transit Drivers may also be subject to robberies and injuries from physical attacks.

Work schedules vary among Drivers. Intercity Bus and Transit Drivers may work nights, weekends, and holidays. Drivers with the most seniority may have regular routes and regular weekly work schedules, but other Drivers with less seniority may not have regular schedules and must be prepared to report to work on short notice. Local Transit Bus Drivers have a five-day workweek, including Saturdays and Sundays.

Many Intercity and Local Transit Bus Drivers are members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Transport Workers Union of America, United Transportation Union, or the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Bus Driver may appeal to those who enjoy occupations involving practical, hands-on problems and solutions, and do not involve a lot of paperwork. This occupation also involves helping or providing service to others.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Wages

The median wage in 2016 for Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity in California is $41,208 annually, or $19.81 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$30,287$41,208$53,290
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits

Bus Drivers may expect to receive health and life insurance, sick leave, vacation, and pension plans. As an additional benefit, free transit passes may be given to all employees and their dependents.

What is the Job Outlook?

Currently, public transportation is seen as an environmentally friendly alternative to driving. Many State and local governments have increased funding for public transportation. This trend is expected to continue, and it may lead to increased employment of Transit Bus Drivers. Full-time Bus Drivers rarely are laid off during recessions, but competition for jobs increases significantly during periods of high unemployment. Also, public transportation depends on State and local government funding, therefore, during times of economic downturns, there are fewer employment opportunities.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity are expected to increase by 13.3 percent, or 3,100 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Estimated
Employment
Projected
Employment
Numeric
Change
Percent
Change
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Replacements
California
(2012-2022)
23,30026,4003,10013.34,300
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 310 new job openings per year is expected for Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity, plus an additional 430 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 740 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
California
(2012-2022)
310430740
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Many employers prefer to hire individuals with a high school diploma (or equivalent) and a clean driving record. A written test may also be required to assess the applicant's ability to read and follow bus schedules. Completion of a company sponsored bus driver training program is usually required. Most intercity and local transit bus companies provide their driver trainees two to eight weeks of classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction. Some employers may require fingerprinting. Pre-employment drug screening and random drug and alcohol testing are required by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The minimum age for a Bus Driver is 18 to drive within the State and at least 21 to drive a bus across State lines.

Experience

Some employers may require several years of experience driving a bus or truck.

Early Career Planning

High school preparation courses in general mathematics, language arts, social sciences, auto shop, and driver education and training courses provide a helpful background for those interested in bus driving careers.

Licensing and Certification

Transit, Intercity, Tour, and Shuttle Bus Drivers in vehicles that carry more than ten passengers must get a California Commercial Class B driver license with airbrake and passenger endorsements. Requirements for this license are listed in the Commercial Driver Handbook, obtainable at any California Department of Motor Vehicles office.

To qualify for the required Commercial Class B license with airbrake and passenger endorsements, applicants must also submit an approved medical form completed by a U.S. licensed physician. A medical exam is required every two years.

A Verification of Transit Training Document is required for Transit Bus Drivers. This certification shows that the Bus Driver has fulfilled the specified training requirements. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

  • Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Bus Driver, Commercial Vehicle Operation, and Truck and Bus Driver.
  • Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Local Government 57.2%
Automotive Equipment Rental and Leasing 3.0%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers is one of the most effective job search methods. Jobs may also be found through classified advertisements in newspapers and online job boards. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity.

  • Bus Charters and Rentals
  • Bus Driver
  • Bus Lines
  • Bus Tours - Promoters

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Bus Drivers with seniority may receive higher wages, compete for a preferred route, or choose better work hours. Opportunities for promotion are generally limited. Some experienced Bus Drivers may become supervisors, dispatchers, instructors, or superintendents.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity with links to more information.

OccupationOccupational
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Industry
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Occupational
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Couriers and MessengersProfile
Industrial Truck and Tractor OperatorsGuide
Subway and Streetcar OperatorsProfile
Taxi Drivers and ChauffeursProfile
Light Truck or Delivery Services DriversGuide

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SystemCode
SOC - Standard Occupational Classification53-3021
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity53-3021.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)RSE
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Truck and Bus Driver/Commercial Vehicle Operator and Instruc490205
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Truck and Bus Driving094750