What is a Training Bus?

Mary McMahon

A training bus is a bus which is used to provide on the road instruction to people who are learning to become bus drivers. Training buses are initially used on a closed course to give the new bus driver a chance to become familiar with operating a bus in a controlled environment. Eventually, the bus driver will take the bus on the open road to get practice with driving in environments with other drivers, before graduating to runs with a regular bus in service and an experienced driver along for the ride to provide assistance. Once a bus driver has ample experience, she or he can be allowed to drive independently.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Training buses are not substantially different from regular buses used for driving routes and in fact sometimes a standard bus with signs indicating that it is being used for training will be used. In other cases, a training bus is a bus which has been taken out of the regular fleet. It may be painted with a distinctive livery which allows people to identify it as a training bus and it may also have signage showing that it is not in service.

For buses which are specifically outfitted for training, a second seat is usually placed at the front of the bus for a driving instructor. The instructor monitors the trainee driver as she or he learns to operate the bus, providing advice and suggestions. Being seated near the driver also positions the instructor to take over operation of the training bus if the driver runs into problems. The bus may also be stripped of fittings such as seats because they are not needed for training and they can be recycled into the rest of the fleet.

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Training for bus drivers typically starts with classroom work. In the classroom, drivers familiarize themselves with the laws pertaining to driving a bus and they are also acquainted with safety information which they will find relevant to their work. Once drivers complete classroom work, they can be taken onto training buses to learn how to operate a bus. A training bus must usually be driven through an obstacle course before the bus driver can drive on the road, to confirm that the driver has control of the vehicle and can maneuver safely.

Once a driver has successfully qualified as a bus driver, it is possible to work for public transit, private charter companies, and other companies which use buses, such as airport shuttles. It is usually necessary to periodically recertify in order to retain a license to drive a bus.

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