What is a Tour Bus Driver?
The tour bus driver is the person who is responsible for the artist’s and the crew’s arrival to the tour destinations. It is one of the most important jobs on the tour because the bus driver has everybody’s lives in their hands.
Skills Required to be a Bus Driver
Responsibility, punctuality, and vehicle handling skills are the key qualities to be a tour bus driver. Bandwagons and tour buses are not the easiest rides, so the tour bus driver needs to make sure that everyone is safe while driving.
It is mandatory for the tour bus drivers to follow the rules and regulations as well. A bus driver can be on duty for twelve hours. In those twelve hours, the maximum driving that they can do is ten hours. Once the driver hits the ten hours, they have to be parked and they cannot move the bus until they get eight hours of sleep.
Daily Routine of a Bus Driver
The night is the beginning of a day for a bus driver because that is when their work starts. During the morning, the bus driver takes shower and goes to bed to get a good sleep and rest. When they wake up, they get their stuff together and check the hotel room to make sure nothing is left. When they get to the bus, they do a pre-chip check to see the condition of the tires, the belt, the gas, and make sure nothing is leaking or cracked and everything is good to go. They do the check at night as well to ensure the safety of the trip. Once the check is done, the driver warms up the bus for about twenty minutes and in the time being makes sure everybody has settled down.
On the Road
There is a door or a curtain between the driver and the rest of the bus. So, if there is a party raging at the bus, the driver just shuts the door to separate themselves and concentrate on the road. If there is a door, it is more soundproof, so the driver is more separated than having a curtain, however, if there is a curtain it lets the airflow inside and cools down the driving area.
If the passengers are asleep, the driver does an over through the front lounge to make sure nothing is going to fall off the counter. Once the driver gets everything set, they set their GPS for the next destination, and they are ready to go.
The bus driver normally schedules a stop within the first hour. The reason is that if the people are awake, it is easier to get that hour for them to fall asleep so that when the driver stops to get a coffee, the driver does not have to keep track of where the people are.
At the Venue
When the driver arrives at the venue and has venue parking, they get parked and leveled. The driver makes sure the bus sits nice and square for everybody. Then the driver goes through the front lounge, picks up the trash, and cleans the area. If there’s vacuuming needed, the driver waits for everybody to be awake and makes the area as clean as it can be. The tidying and the cleaning are essential because, at the end of the day, the tour bus is the artist’s and the crew’s home, it’s where they eat and sleep.
The driver is also responsible for making the beds. However, the driver gives the option of either giving the clean sheets and letting the passengers take care of it themselves to stay out of their space because it is the one place on the tour that the touring crew calls their own. Or if they want the driver to take care of it, the driver pulls the sheets and makes the beds. It is all about communicating and respecting the boundaries. A bus driver’s job is not only to maintain the ability of the bus to operate but also to make sure that the inside of the bus is liveable with a comfortable setting.
Communication Between the Bus Driver and the Crew
If something is not right or something is broken, the driver cannot handle the situation unless the passengers let the driver know. Therefore, what can the driver do to make everyone’s life easier on the road should be communicated clearly. If the driver is sleeping and the trash is full, passengers can take out the trash instead of stuffing things in it. This way, passengers can make the driver’s job easier. Plus, not letting the shoes all around the bus is also a nice way to treat everyone’s convenience. Creating a huge mess inside of the bus means creating discomfort for everyone.
Drop & Go
Some venues do not have a parking spot for the tour bus, so the driver needs to drop and go which is mostly a nightmare for drivers. When they arrive at the venue, they take all the gear out of the trailer, and everybody is out of the bus, but the driver needs to take the bus to park wherever they request them to park. The bad part is, when the driver gets to the hotel earlier than the check-in time, they do not allow the driver into the room and have the driver wait. There is a lost time of the driver’s sleep schedule just because of this reason. And the driver needs to go back to the bus to bring it over to the venue when the show is over. So, drop and go is not the best situation a driver can have. However, it is becoming a rare thing because most venues are now paying for the permits for the driver to park outside.
Why You Can’t Shit on the Bus
RVs are set up for running a hose into it but there is not always a hose to run into it to help clean the system out. The driver has to make sure that the tank is flushed but there might not always be a time to clean it up when it is not just liquid. If the tank is not cleaned properly, the bus is going to smell like shit, and nobody wants that to happen. It is everybody’s best interest just not to shit on a bus. If there is an emergency, the bus driver can have a toilet break.
Tips for a Tour Bus Driver
- The right way to tour is always sticking to your word even if it means missing a bigger opportunity sometimes. You do not bail on people unless you can replace yourself.
- Even if you cannot make it to a tour, you can find a fill for the position and keep each other hired. You want to make sure that the touring act is safe and in good hands.
- You got a lot of people’s lives in your hands as a bus driver. So, if you have never ridden on a bandwagon, be aware that they are not the easiest ride.
- Get good sleep. Everybody has those days when they don’t sleep well. It’s just a lot different for bus drivers because again they are responsible not only for their life but also the life of twelve or more people.
- Avoid energy drinks, they are bad for your health.
- Smoking cigarettes is not allowed on the bus.
- Podcasts are essential for a bus driver to listen to whilst driving.
- If you can get a rider, put a pack of fresh socks on it. There is nothing like putting on brand new clean socks on tour.
- Don’t shit on the bus!