Blog / Published on Nov 29, 2023

Prepping for the trip: A bus driver’s checklist before hitting the road

Pre-trip inspections help keep riders safe and on-time

A Community Transit Coach Operator checking tire pressure on a bus.

Pictured above: Community Transit driver David Nicholson checks the tires on his bus during a pre-trip inspection. 

Did you know that Community Transit operates more than 1,200 trips each weekday? Over the weekend, this number drops to roughly 700 trips a day. While each trip starts at the first stop on the route for riders, the bus driver’s work starts well before that. 

Safety starts at the beginning of a shift

Before our drivers embark on their workday, they educate themselves on any updates that may impact their route or riders. Here is a breakdown of what a driver might do before they head to their bus: 

12:00 p.m. – Arrive at the bus base and clock in for their shift at the dispatch window. Drivers pick up forms they need, such as turn-by-turn maps, or read any notes left for them by their supervisor. Extra board drivers, who may drive a different route every shift, will check in to see what their route is.

12:05 p.m. – Read the information boards containing construction and route updates to stay informed about any changes that might affect their riders.

12:07 p.m. – Head to the “yard shack” to retrieve their assigned bus for the day. Buses are neatly organized by size: 30 ft, 40 ft, and 60 ft. At our Kasch Park base, they may be assigned a Double Tall bus.

12:10 p.m. - Perform a thorough 10-minute pre-trip inspection to ensure their assigned bus is ready to transport passengers to their destinations safely. Once this is done, the driver can get moving! 

A woman in a yellow vest points out the information on the Construction and Route Information Board

Pictured above: Heather Ratley, Assistant Manager of Transportation at Community Transit, demonstrates the construction and route information board our drivers review when they start a shift. 

What happens during a pre-trip inspection?

A pre-trip inspection is a list of more than 50 tasks that Community Transit drivers complete before heading out for the day to make sure that their vehicle is safe and reliable. The tasks include:

  • Checking that the horn, brakes, lights, and doors are working.
  • Confirming the bus is fueled and all the fluids are at the correct levels.
  • Checking the bus exterior for damage like flat tires, broken mirrors, cracked windows, or dents.
  • Confirming that the wheelchair ramps and hydraulic systems are working.
  • Making a test call to dispatch to ensure their radio system is working.
  • Confirming all safety equipment is on board the vehicle.
A Community Transit driver standing in front of a bus inspecting a bike rack.

Pictured above: Community Transit driver David Nicholson ensures his bike rack works during a pre-trip inspection. 

If the driver finds something wrong during pre-trip, they will radio dispatch and be directed to report it to the maintenance shop. They will then be issued a new bus and perform another pre-trip inspection before heading out.

By dedicating time to checking for updates, performing pre-trip inspections, and promptly addressing any issues, our drivers play a crucial role in keeping our buses reliable and our riders safe!