Volume 12 Week 5

Monday, July 25


 

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney



 

 

 

 

Driving school bus
a labour of love


For the past six months I’ve had the pleasure of driving a school bus for ML Bradley Ltd. based out of Navan. Not the big bus mind you, but a mini-bus taking a group of special needs students from the south end of the city to Ottawa Technical Secondary School on Donald Street.

The 10 kids in my care were a pleasure to deal with in every aspect.

I took the job in December after approaching ML Bradley owner Kathleen Both in need of some extra money to help pay the bills.

After passing my written test, I trained for three weeks before acquiring my B-class license which allows me to drive any size bus.

I was given Route M61 starting at 7 a.m. every morning. I love driving anyway, so operating a bus 2.5 hours in the morning and again in the afternoon was no big deal.

ML Bradley Ltd. has been around for more than 50 years. The company was started by Lorne Bradley, who as a teenager in the mid-40s, had the foresight to understand the need to transport students living in rural communities like Navan to high schools in the city.

In 1946, he leased an old station wagon to transport his fellow students to and from Lisgar Collegiate, and while it would be another 20 years before he founded the company that bears his name, the seed had already been planted.

Over the years ML Bradley Ltd. has grown into one of the most respected school bus companies in the province, largely because of their safety record and also because of some of the innovations they’ve brought to the industry like Child Check-Mate which reminds drivers to check their buses for sleeping students after every run.

Kathleen Both currently runs the company with her husband Gord and their youngest son Andrew. They are also blessed with a dedicated office staff including Andrew, François, Heather and Julie and Elyssa and a professional group of drivers, some of whom have been with the company for more than 20 years.

Driving a school bus can be a pretty stressful sometimes, especially if you’re transporting a group of kindergarten students and have to deal with Ottawa drivers day in and day out. I wish I had a dash cam just so I could post some of the near misses I had with drivers making lefthand turns in front of me, or simply cutting me off.

I never had anyone drive past my bus with the flashing lights on and the stop arm extended, but it happened far too often on other routes.

Most people would be surprised to find out that school bus drivers make $13 an hour. I know I was, especially considering the immense reponsibility they have in keeping their young charges safe.

The hourly wage is indirectly set by the provincial government which establishes how much they are willing to pay for transportation at the beginning of every schol year.

So would I do it all over again? Absolutely. In fact, unless my current situation changes drastically, I plan to be back driving a school bus in September.

School bus drivers can usually be lumped into two categories – stay at home parents looking to supplement the family income, or semi-retired individuals looking to keep busy anf earn some extra income in the pro-cess. Depending on the route, you can clear $1,000 to $1,200 a month.

Bradley’s is an absolute joy to work for. They treat their employees extremely well and they provide ongoing training sessions and safety meetings throughout the year.

If you enjoy driving and could use a few extra dollars every month, I can’t recommend operating a school bus enough. ML Bradley is currently looking for new drivers for the coming school year. You can learn more by visiting www.mlbradley.com.

(If you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column please write to Fred Sherwin at fsherwin@magma.ca)

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