CHANDLER, AZ — There's a lot more to being a school bus driver than just getting behind the wheel. ABC15 followed a Kyrene School District bus driver as he did his morning route to find out what it takes to do the job.
Robert Morton has been a school bus driver for 11 years. He's been working in Kyrene for six years.
"It's a fun job," Morton said as he drove the bus on the first day of school. "I used to be a Safeway store manager and I retired and became a school bus driver."
Morton says the best part of his job is interacting with the kids. He loves getting to know them and their parents.
"I get to see the kids grow up. There's a great difference between sixth graders and eighth graders," he said.
The goal is to get the kids to school on time, safely.
"The cargo that we are transporting is more importing than any cargo out there on the road," said Morton.
But he says it's also a lot more than that. A lot of his job is listening and being a friend to the students. He says many of them open up to him about issues they're having at school.
"Realistically, the hardest part of driving the bus, it's not driving the bus. It's sometimes what's behind you."
Samantha Silva is in seventh grade at Kyrene Aprende Middle School. She says she's happy Morton is her driver again this year.
"Trying to talk to a teacher, it may be a little of difficult. But Robert actually understands a lot of things," said Silva.
Morton says the driving itself is something anyone can do. All bus drivers go through intensive training.
"You just have to be careful. You can't make quick left turns or right turns. You have to look for objects in the roads," said Morton.
The job doesn't end once the route is completed. Morton says he has to check several safety features both inside and outside the bus before and after he picks up and drops off the kids. Before he gets started, he completes a pre-trip check, which includes looking at oil levels, transmission, fluids, tires and emergency exits. He does another check after the route.
"You are checking some of the things that keeps the bus running," he explained.
Morton says he loves being a school bus driver. He loves the kids, the responsibility and the perks that come with it. He says the hours are flexible, and you can work as much as you want. You also get holidays and the summer off if you choose to not work.
"You're the captain of your ship--through the children, through your own career. You can get out of it pretty much what you want to," said Morton.
Kyrene leaders say as a bus driver you are guaranteed to work at least 30 hours per week, which is considered full time. Bus drivers receive health benefits and can start at $15.41 an hour with no experience. To apply, you need a driver's license and to be at least 21 years old. The school provides paid training so you can obtain a Commercial Driver’s License and School Bus Certification.
Kyrene School District is hiring bus driver and bus mechanics. Leaders will host a “Drive the Bus” Hiring Event in September. You can find out more on the district's website or by calling 480-541-1700. https://www.kyrene.org/
They're also holding a hiring event next month!
If you go:
Saturday, September 14
8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Aprende Middle School, 777 N Desert Breeze Blvd E #2, Chandler, AZ 85226