December 22, 2014

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the questions I’m asked most often. If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to ask using the form on the Contact Me page.

  1. How long have you been driving?
  2. Since the day I turned 16.

    Oh, you mean, how long have I been driving buses? In my case, over nine years — since July 2002. In that time I’ve had a motorcoach in 29 states and two provinces … including every state east of the Mississippi and a few in the west!

  3. Why are you going this way? I know a shortcut!
  4. You probably do! Tell us about it, if you’re absolutely certain it’s bus friendly. But keep in mind, we’re driving a forty-five foot long vehicle, almost 12 feet tall, 102 inches wide, and weighing 24 tons … so we can’t cross a 10-ton bridge, or go under an overpass with a 10-foot clearance, or on certain roads that are banned to 102-inch vehicles. Other factors that affect our choice of route include visibility at intersections, tight turns, traffic lights, smoother ride, etc. Keep in mind, too, that it can be tough to find a safe spot to turn a motorcoach around if we come upon an obstacle such as a low-weight bridge, so if there’s any question, we’ll take the longer way to be safe.

    On the other hand … while we have hundreds of thousands of miles of driving experience and usually know the best routes to use once we’re on the road, we go so many different places that often YOU may know the best route for the first or last few miles of the trip, so don’t be afraid to share that with us. Likewise, if there are multiple ways to get there (and there usually are), we’re open to your input on which routes you’d prefer to travel, whether it be based on rest stops, scenery, smoother ride, or whatever.

  5. What’s the farthest you’ve gone?
  6. I assume you mean driving a motorcoach. My longest trip so far was in the summer of 2004 — a trip from Philadelphia, PA to New Orleans, Louisiana (before Katrina, fortunately) — about 2,800 miles round trip in eight days. I also did a trip in June 2007 to Lincoln, Nebraska, which was about the same distance. Our company has had motorcoaches travel as far as Alaska (from the Philadelphia, PA area) — now THAT is a long drive!

  7. Do you use a GPS receiver?
  8. Most motorcoach drivers, including myself, use GPS (I currently use a Garmin nĂ¼vi 3760). While we rarely need GPS for directions, they are very valuable in providing an accurate ETA (estimated time of arrival), and confirm our turns in areas we may not be as familiar with or drive through infrequently. By the way, drivers at our company provide their own GPS units — they are not provided by the company.

    In addition to GPS, I also use an Apple iPad, which gives me current maps of any area I’m in, as well as real-time traffic information — extremely helpful when choosing routes in major urban areas and during rush hour. I do my best to keep moving and help you arrive at your destination as quickly and safely as possible.

  9. What did you do before you drove motorcoach?
  10. Driving is my third career. I owned a portrait and wedding photography studio for 19 years, a printing company for 17 years (there was about a five year overlap when I had both), and I’ve been driving since I sold the printing company in 2002. I also have a part time Internet business (Bergey.net), doing Web hosting, Web design and a bit of commercial photography now and then.

  11. What do you do while you’re parked and waiting for the group?
  12. Well, a nap is usually pretty high on my priority list, as is eating. And I usually have my laptop computer and/or iPad along with me, and can do research online on upcoming trips, or I can exercise my digital photography hobby, or I can work online on my Internet business while I’m waiting if I have nothing else to do. I also enjoy writing posts and adding pages to this site! The most enjoyable trips for me, however, are those that I can participate with the group if it’s appropriate — sightseeing, taking photographs, going to a show or out to dinner (all drivers love to eat), touring historic areas, museums, seeing a ball game or concert, etc. But parking limitations often prevent us from participating, especially in urban areas.

  13. Mac or PC?
  14. Okay, so it may not be a frequently asked question … but I wanted to answer it anyway: Macintosh!! LOL. And I love my iPhone and iPad, too.

  15. Do you have a choice of what trips you drive for? Did you request to drive for my group?
  16. No, basically the only choice I have is to either drive or quit (and I’m not going to quit working for the best company in the business!). Trips are assigned arbitrarily by our dispatcher; I was “stuck” with you and your group (or were you stuck with me?!). Not all companies assign trips that way, however; in some cases, drivers “bid” on trips, and those with seniority do have some say on which trips they drive. Personally, I prefer our company’s system, and I think customers are better served overall.

  17. Do you drive this bus every day?
  18. No, I drive a different motorcoach every day. That’s another win for our customers — both coaches and drivers are assigned according to what’s most appropriate for the group. My life has no routine whatsoever — a different coach, a different group, a different schedule, a different destination every day — and I like it that way!

  19. Do you have to wash and clean the bus tonight?
  20. No, our company has a crew that cleans the coaches inside and out every night, so they always go out clean and shiny for the next trip, and without wearing out the drivers. (Exception: on multi-day trips, I do clean the inside of the bus, empty the trash, and dump the toilet.) The last thing I’d want to do after an exhausting 12 or 14 hour day (our typical workday) is have to wash and clean out the bus myself. But we do try and leave it in as good shape for the bus cleaners as possible, and most groups are very helpful in that respect — and it is appreciated.

  21. How many hours are you legally allowed to drive?
  22. Federal law limits us to no more than 10 hours of actual driving time each day, and no more than 70 hours total on duty time every 8 days. But hours parked in the middle of the day don’t count against that 10 hours of driving time. Federal law also requires us to have at least 8 contiguous hours off every 24 hours, so we’re well rested for your trip.

  23. What about driving in bad weather?
  24. A motorcoach with a professional driver is the safest way to go! The motorcoach driver has better visibility than any other vehicle on the road, and the coaches are so heavy they’re the last to have a problem on wet or snowy roads. Of course, we adjust our driving to road conditions, slowing down in bad weather, so you may arrive just a bit later than normal. Safety is always priority number one. But we’ll get you there, safe and sound, unless they close the roads!

  25. What are your favorite places to go?
  26. Believe it or not, New York City is one of my favorite places to take groups, despite the traffic challenges and difficulty in parking. I also enjoy Washington, DC. Other personal favorites include Williamsburg, VA, and Amish areas in Lancaster, PA and Ohio, and Niagara Falls, plus dinner theaters anywhere (drivers love to eat, remember?!). And I really enjoy doing multiple-day trips, where we cover longer distances and see more of the country; it’s fun getting to know the group better on those longer trips, too. My least favorite are easy but boring trips — Atlantic City, NJ, and ski trips anywhere — but certain times of the year those are our “bread and butter” trips, so they’re important, too.

  27. What kinds of groups do you take on trips?
  28. The diversity is almost unbelievable … of course we do a lot of school and church groups, as well as senior citizen organizations. But I’ve also driven for weddings, anniversaries, funerals, families on vacation, teen travel camps, sports teams of all kinds, ski clubs, fan clubs, bands, business retreats, and more. I also drive for many of our company’s public tours. If you have any kind of a group going to the same place at the same time, traveling together on a motorcoach makes it so much more fun, practical, and economical.

  29. Why am I expected to tip the motorcoach driver? He/she already gets paid, right?
  30. Motorcoach drivers depend on gratuities for a significant part of their income, not unlike waitstaff at your favorite restaurant. Tour bus drivers earn a minimal wage (lowest hourly pay of any type of bus driver, and despite the long hours do not receive overtime pay) and rely on gratuities to help put food on the table. It’s actually a good system — relying on gratuities keeps the level of service high — a win/win for both the passengers and drivers.

  31. What’s an appropriate amount for the driver’s gratuity?
  32. Industry standard for a motorcoach/tour bus driver (in 2011) is between $2.00 and $3.00 per passenger per day, with an extra $1.00/bag each day luggage is handled. (You’re allowed to tip more for good service!) If the driver did a less than satisfactory job, reduce the tip accordingly, and be sure to let the driver know why you weren’t satisfied.

    If your trip includes the services of a step-on guide, don’t forget him/her, either — like drivers, they depend on gratuities for their income, also. Standard in 2011 is between $1.00 to $3.00 per passenger per day for the step-on guide, depending how much of the day they spent with the group.

  33. May I ask for you to drive for my group again?
  34. Yes! My company does try and honor requests for a specific driver when possible. But there aren’t any guarantees — I can only drive one bus at a time! Not to worry, though — my fellow drivers are nearly as good and almost as nice as I am. ;-)

Updated 8-14-11

Comments

  1. Your FAQ answers sound nearly exactly like mine would. All except the liking NY part.

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