Secret Life of the American Bus Driver

Hello lovely readers,

Today, I’d like to introduce you to a dear friend of mine: Hillary Lynch. Hillary is a sophomore at UMASS, an exceptionally thoughtful person, and most importantly…she’s a bus driver for the PVTA!

There she is!

When Hillary told me about her new job, my reaction could only be described as flabbergasted. For one, I didn’t even know that students were allowed to drive those 40-foot killing machines! And I couldn’t quite understand the appeal. But after a year of PVTA employment, Hillary has finally given me the scoop on the Secret Life of the American PVTA Driver…


So, how did you hear about the position, and why did you apply for it?

I saw the adds for the position on the buses, and I thought, “Eh—I’m desperate.” Plus, it’s the highest paying job on campus. [PVTA drivers get paid $15 an hour]


Do you think your high pay is warranted?

Oh, absolutely! Besides from being responsible for hundreds of lives every day, and having to get a special license for a 40-foot bus, dealing with the people is tough enough. [She has worked up to 8 hours in one siting]


What is it like to drive the night shifts?

It was kinda scary in the beginning when I didn’t know the route well [Last semester, Hillary drove Thursday and Saturday nights from UMASS to Amherst, to Hampshire, to Holyoke, and back.]. Now, it’s more just frustrating to deal with all the completely shitfaced people.


Is a drunk rider always annoying?

No no no, sometimes they’re funny! I’ve had bus rides with sing-alongs and trivia games, but that generally only happens 25% of the time. The other 75%, people are just really loud. And if they’re not loud, they’re asleep. You even sometimes have the ones who throw up…

No! What do you do then?

I just place bus schedules over the mess and tell people to avoid it. When you’re training, they tell you to turn off the heat if you think someone might throw up. But I don’t think it actually works.


What are some of the craziest drunk people you’ve met?

Well, once I had a girl pole dance on the bus…I was partially amused, but I just couldn’t let it continue. I said over the intercom, “Um, that’s really unsafe, can you pleased get down.”


Any other crazy people?

Once, this man with a dreaded beard—probably homeless—hopped on the bus, got on his stomach, and slid all the way to his seat. I kind of just stared at him, but figured I’d just ignore it. When his stop came, he did the same thing! One of the passengers whispered to her friend, “What is that guy doing?” And he looked back at her and just yelled, “I’m a caterpillar!”


What’s a good time you’ve had on a ride?

Once a girl came onto bus really happy. She had just been on her first date with a guy she really liked, and she told me all about it. It was really sweet.


A bad time?

I was driving the Thursday night shift, and heading towards Holyoke. A bunch of drunk girls were in the back of the bus, and one of their friends looked like she was sleeping. When we reached Holyoke, all the girls just left. I drove back to UMASS, my last stop, and walked up to the sleeping girl. It took me almost five minutes to wake her up, and I thought I might have to call the ambulance. Finally, she looked around, started crying, and said “where are my friends?” I called her a cab, but it was really sad to see.


What is one of your favorite things to do on the bus?

Well, when no one’s on the bus, I just blast the music and jam on my own. It’s a one-woman show.

If you could tell the public one thing, what would it be?

Do NOT be rude to the driver! If you get on the incorrect bus, or you forget to pull the stop lever, do not yell—it’s not our fault! I’ve only kicked someone off of the bus for being rude once, and I hope to never do it again!


Would you recommend this job to your friends?

If you are a people person, then I would absolutely recommend my job, cause you really see the best and the worst of humanity…If not, don’t do it. And if you try to quit, you can’t cause we have a contract.



Hillary is not your average bus driver. She shows a tremendous amount of patience for even the most obnoxious riders. In fact, she’s even had to deal with drunken masses trying to push her bus over, and all she can do is laugh about it! I guess I wanted to interview her to expose the truth about bus drivers. They’re not all grouchy. They’re not all old. And they don’t all have really flat pancake butts! And now you know :)


Doin me since 1991,