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Rookies — including a NorthernLife.ca reporter — take on bus rodeo

The transit rodeo includes a skills competition and safety awards ceremony for transit workers, as well as a barbecue. The workers' friends and family members were also invited to see what it's like to drive a 40-foot-long city bus.
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The transit rodeo includes a skills competition and safety awards ceremony for transit workers, as well as a barbecue.

The workers' friends and family members were also invited to see what it's like to drive a 40-foot-long city bus.

More than a few pilons and barrels representing passengers were knocked over by the novices, while the professional bus drivers cruised flawlessly through the course.

“The obstacle course, it's set up to mimic some of the skills required to do the work on a daily basis,” said the city's director of transit and fleet services, Roger Sauve.

“When somebody who's not necessarily a bus driver takes a run through the course, they find it very challenging.”

Greater Sudbury Transit has 74 full-time drivers and 40 part-time drivers, and at any given time, has up to 47 buses on the road, providing five million rides a year, he said.

“Some people drive in traffic and road conditions and winter and things like that just for short periods, to and from work, and they find it very difficult,” Sauve said. “Our operators do it eight hours a day.”

Mani Aziz, who has been a city bus driver for three years, said anybody can learn to drive a bus, but the key is providing good customer service.

“To do this job, you have to be a people person,” he said, adding that he has many friends among regular passengers.

Aziz admits not all his passengers are always nice, but he tries not to take it personally. “You always have to be neutral with passengers all the time,” he said. “Customer service is the number one priority for a bus driver.”

Heidi Ulrichsen

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