Bus drivers, subway operators and other transit operators (NOC 7512)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

People in this career drive buses, subway trains and light rail transit vehicles so that passengers can get from place to place without a car. They drive planned routes on a schedule and people buy tickets to ride on the bus, subway or light rail train.

Bus drivers work for urban transit systems, school boards or transportation authorities and private transportation companies. Subway and light rail transit operators work for urban transit systems.

Watch the video below to see what a day in the life of a bus driver is like.

People in this career must have great driving skills and should be able to follow instructions carefully. They also need to think and act quickly in different situations. Good communication and people skills are important because they speak and deal with passengers throughout their shift.

Common job titles
  • conductor, bus / streetcar
  • operator, light rail / subway / trolley
  • shuttle driver - auto dealership
  • shuttle driver - car rental company

Duties

Bus drivers:

  • Drive buses to take passengers from one place to another on planned routes
  • Drive buses to take passengers and goods within a city or town or over long distances
  • Drive sightseeing tour buses to transport people to a specific place within a town or city or to take them long distances to other areas
  • Drive buses that offer access to people in wheelchairs, and help passengers getting on and off the bus
  • Give passengers information on fares, schedules and stops
  • Collect fares, give and confirm transfers, check bus passes and record transactions
  • Inspect vehicles before and after each trip or shift
  • Talk with passengers, dispatchers or other drivers using two-way radio systems or cell phones
  • Report delays, mechanical problems and accidents
  • May provide information on points of interest during sightseeing tours
  • May load and unload passengers’ luggage and express freight

School bus drivers:

  • Drive school buses to take children to and from school or on field trips
  • Make sure that children are safe when boarding and leaving the bus, including crossing the street while the bus is stopped
  • Keep control of what children are doing during travel to ensure safety
  • May drive adults on chartered trips outside of school hours

Subway train and light rail transit operators:

  • Operate subway or rail transit vehicles as part of two-person crew
  • Observe signals at crossings and arrival and departure points
  • Operate controls to open and close transit vehicle doors
  • Report delays, mechanical or other problems and accidents to the control office
  • Oversee passenger safety and welfare in emergencies, and direct passengers during evacuation procedures

Work environment

Bus drivers and transit operators spend most of their working day driving vehicles, which usually have comfortable driver seats.

Entry level bus drivers and transit operators can expect to work part time through evenings, weekends and sometimes holidays before working full time. Those who have been in the job longer can expect more regular shifts and full-time hours (40 hours per week). Some in this job work split shifts, which means working for several hours in the morning, having a break for a few hours, and coming back to work for a few more hours.

Public transit operators are more likely to be part of a union and work full time.

As bus drivers and transit operators must sit for long periods, they can get back and neck injuries. These workers may also have to handle angry or upset passengers from time to time.

Insights from industry

There are usually a lot of applicants for these jobs. Post-secondary education, good communication and people skills are an advantage when applying for this job.

Bus drivers and transit operators work alone, which means that they need to make decisions, take responsibility and do a good job without direct supervision.

People in this job must be patient with passengers who may be confused or lost, as well as in response to traffic, accidents, construction and bad drivers. They need to remain professional and calm even when a passenger is being rude or aggressive.

It’s important for people in this career to always pay attention – anticipating problems on the road or with a passenger.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Bus drivers often have previous experience as truck drivers. Most workers start by working part time, evenings, weekends and holidays, as well as split shifts before getting a full-time position.

With additional training or experience, people with this career can be promoted to supervisor or manager, or into non-driving jobs such as dispatcher, safety officer or driving trainer.

Additional resources