Lifestyle,  School Bus

Driving a School Bus in Ontario

It’s the first day of school. You wake up, dress and feed your children. Pack the lunches, put on jackets and shoes, and head out to wait for the school bus. The big yellow bus pulls up, opens it’s doors and surprise! Its me!

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I’m Rushai, and I’ll be your school bus driver this year! it’s nice to meet you!

I’ve been driving a big school bus since September 2021 and i’m about to give you the inside scoop.

What it’s like on the other end of the morning drop-offs. What it’s like not only riding a school bus but also driving one. The pros and the cons. It’s mostly pro’s; and even when it’s not such a good day, the best part is, it’s only 4 hours.

driving a school bus in ontario

School Bus hours..

You heard that right. My school bus driving job only lasts 4 hours. 5 MAX. For me personally, my runs total around 4.5 hours a day. 2 hours in the morning and 2.5 hours in the afternoon. The hours are my (second) favourite part of the job. It’s one of the reasons why I chose to drive a school bus. It gives me free time during the day.

To pursue my dreams, to run errands, clean the house, maybe take a nap. That’s the beauty of the job. I have 4 hours in between my runs to do whatever my heart fancies. Granted, I have to wake up really early (5AM) in the morning. I am used to it now. My daughter, not so much. But that’s okay, she can continue sleeping on the bus while I do my runs.

Front Seat Passenger

My daughter Amora, is my upfront seat passenger for all of my school runs. (I drop her off at school with the rest of the children) Since I am already transporting children, my child is allowed to ride along with me! This is a real life saver for me, especially on days when she wakes up still sleepy. I just pack her some breakfast for when she wakes up, a blanket on the chilly days, and we are good to go! Easy peasy.

Mornings couldn’t be easier, especially since I’ve finally narrowed down my Pre-Trip Inspection to just under 17minutes.

Section 107 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) and Ontario Regulation 199/07 requires a school purpose bus and a school purpose vehicle to be inspected on a daily basis.


Daily Pre-Trip Inspection

For my company, that means every morning. Rain or shine.

Every morning I must lift the hood & inspect the engine, fluid levels, connecting wires and parts, and tires. I then inspect the outside and underside of the bus, then check to make sure the fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and emergency supplies are inside the bus.

Once the bus has started, I check all the emergency exits & dashboard gauges. I do one more check of the outside of the bus, checking to make sure all lights are working and no fluids are leaking from underneath the bus.

Lastly, I sign my bus log books and we are ready to go!

school bus pre trip inspection

So rest assured, everytime your children ride on the school bus, it has been safely inspected and fit for the journey!

Big Yellow Metal Ice Box

school bus covered in snow

In the winter, inside of the bus is colder than the outside.

Over here in Ontario, when its -28degrees outside, the school bus is literally an ice box. A big, yellow, metal ice box. Also because school busses are usually parked in uncovered lots; its also a snow covered, big yellow metal ice box. IT SUCKS. Shoveling snow off a car is no comparison to shoveling snow off a school bus.

BOOOO! *insert crying emoji*.

To add to the fun, a big yellow ice box takes quite some time to warm up (30+ minutes), so I usually take that time to clean the snow and ice off my bus. It’s quite the task, but I have learned to layer up and wear really thick socks! Amora gets to stay in the nice warm car while the bus warms up.

On super snowy days, I just count the rigorous shoveling as my daily workout.

Thankfully winters in Ontario only last 3-4 months, so during the freezing winter I just look forward to warm sunny days, kids singing, windows down, A/C blowing, spring bus rides.

Finally the warm weather hits and I was horribly surprised to learn that there is no A/C on a school bus.

Yeah, you heard that right.

Summer Weather

There is no A/C on a big 72 passenger school bus. The school bus driver is “lucky” enough to have 2 little fans that can be turned to blow the warm air towards them. But, when it’s 30 degrees outside, warm air is just being pushed around and a cool breeze is minimal. Thankfully for the kids, the trips to and from school aren’t that long.

school bus

I still advise all of the parents on my bus to make sure their children have water bottles that they can fill up with cold water. I myself use the TAL 1.9L insulated water jug and it keeps my water ice cold for the whole day! Keeps my from overheating on the school bus.
To beat the heat, some of my students started bringing mini portable fans. On most days the heat isn’t too bad, but when it does get too hot & the students start complaining, I just remind them of the days when it was -28degrees and we were begging for some heat.

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On the really hot days, I just tell them to pretend that we are a huge caravan travelling through the Sahara Desert. I tell them to look out the windows and pretend the big trucks are wild animals from the desert. Keeps them entertained for the whole trip.

desert school bus

Never a Dull Moment

The kids on my school bus keep me well entertained. They are my favourite part of the job.

I have kids from junior kindergarten all the way up to GR.12 high school. Honestly, the high schoolers all have their headphones in, and it’s a pretty quiet ride. But the elementary my dears. They are the reason I drive the school bus. I had long ago wanted to be a kindergarten teacher and this job fills that empty hole I have in my heart.

“Kids says the darndest things”

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I get my daily dose of laughter and surprise from the students on my bus. They always have something new, exciting, sad, or funny to say. Sometimes they need help with their homework. “Miss! Whats 2×3?“. Sometimes they just want to tell me that they’ve had a great day. I love it.

The students show me so much joy and love, that they make being their bus driver a truly rewarding and meaningful job.

Their happy smiling faces and the way they are so sweet and kind to my daughter when she rides the bus with me, outweighs any cons that may come with driving a school bus. The everyday pre-trips & safety checks are no match for their cries of laughter. The freezing ice box days & sweltering humid days only make their “Good morning Miss” all the sweeter.

“The bad days aren’t so bad when they’re spent with the right people”

Driving a school bus fills my heart with joy and happiness and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

driving a school bus in ontario

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