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 To all the drivers taken over by First Student
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John C. Dalin
New Member

2 Posts

Posted - 06/10/2010 :  06:53:26 AM  Show Profile  Visit John C. Dalin's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hello

We at our location would like to know is there any good thoughts about First Student since they took over your branch or company?

Any good thoughts on Zonar?

Any good thoughts on how they keep track of our time?

Any good thoughts on the GPS system?

Any good thoughts on the professional manner of your office staff?

Any good thoughts on the mechanics and the buses?

Any good thoughts on the governors being set at 58 MPH?

Any good thoughts on the computer clock when the bus reaches over 3
minutes in idle, the bus will shut off when in park?

My location would love to hear some good thoughts. We welcome the other comments too. We want to hear current problems of good thoughts. Thank you.

JC_Theriault
Senior Member

114 Posts

Posted - 06/10/2010 :  11:16:16 AM  Show Profile  Visit JC_Theriault's Homepage  Reply with Quote
So you don't want to hear the bad thoughts at all?
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John C. Dalin
New Member

2 Posts

Posted - 06/10/2010 :  2:10:38 PM  Show Profile  Visit John C. Dalin's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by JC_Theriault

So you don't want to hear the bad thoughts at all?



Please write what ever you like. Unfortuntly I did not know they were going to use my whole name. It is your choice. I like to hear the good and the bad if you want to share it. I am not company, I am a bus driver.
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bus724
Top Member

USA
1609 Posts

Posted - 06/10/2010 :  5:25:45 PM  Show Profile  Visit bus724's Homepage  Send bus724 an AOL message  Reply with Quote
I work for First Student, and have since after they took over this contract. We are one of the few remaining non-Zonar yards, so I can't comment on Zonar/GPS. We submit paper timesheets, and drivers are trusted to report time honestly based on standard hours approved by the manager at the beginning of the year.

Office staff and management varies greatly. If they are taking over your contract, there's a good chance they'll hire the current staff. I disagree with many of FS's policies and the way they train/enforce, and I've seen a lot of inconsistency.

Maintenance varies a lot too. Some yards are great, others are downright lousy. (See the post in General Interest about FS observations). If you're a large enough location they may hire the current technicians and lease the same garage.

I have no thoughts on governors set at 58, since I drive in a state where school buses may not go over 50. Most drivers I know (myself included) stay around 55, although that will probably change once we get Zonar.

I don't like the idea of the idle shutdown feature, but I drive an older bus which has not been programmed to do that yet so I can't really comment.

Good thoughts? If you have a good manager and want to stay in the same district, you should be fine for a while. Just realize there will be a lot more policies and threats of "immediate termination" for various offenses, and you'll have to learn to live with the mentality of "program drivers like they're robots." If you don't care for current management, or you're looking for a good excuse to change jobs, I'd suggest you start looking.
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Karen D
Active Member

USA
11 Posts

Posted - 06/10/2010 :  6:55:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
OK, I'll bite.

1- Zonar; I personally love the product. If you are a person that does a good pre/post trip what difference does it matter that the "paperwork" is electronic?
2- Time sheets; you should have had a paper filled out with your time in/out on it for all of your runs. If you go over that time then you turn in a sheet for extra time.(if your location is new- that will come shortly) otherwise keep a small notebook with your pre/post and beginning and end times of all your runs everyday. Then check your time sheet.
3-Why do you need to go faster than 58?
4- Federal laws state that a diesel cannot idle longer than 5 minutes when stopped- to save the air we breathe and to save fuel.
5- If the office staff is not professional or you have concerns about anything- then you need to contact Human Resources. There should be a person that is local and if you are not comfortable with them go to HR in the Cincinnati office.
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bus724
Top Member

USA
1609 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2010 :  02:05:36 AM  Show Profile  Visit bus724's Homepage  Send bus724 an AOL message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Karen D

4- Federal laws state that a diesel cannot idle longer than 5 minutes when stopped- to save the air we breathe and to save fuel.



That's actually not a federal law, it's a state law adopted by most states with a lot of variations. Times usually range from 3-5 minutes, with exceptions for extremely low temperatures, maintenance and repairs, building up air pressure, keeping a constant temperature for handicapped students, etc.

One thing that really bugs me about FS is that a lot of managers and trainers say things are the law when they aren't. For example, I've talked to plenty of drivers who think "no turn on red" is a state law in CT, which it's not. It's a company policy adopted by FS and several others. Then these drivers start badmouthing drivers from other companies who turn right on red when it's safe to do so.
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WallyG
Advanced Member

United States
254 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2010 :  04:51:40 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
EPA has regulations re idling and they fine when these regs are broken FS recently had a huge fine for buses running in the lot - epa just came in the lot with stop watches and there goes $600k. I don't know why drivers insist on idling their buses but I have had issues with that over the years. 58 MPH - you should see the Zonar logs makes me sick.

No turn on red is a rediculious rule. I just think it makes buses extend the route times unnsecssairly. Zonar was sold as a management tool for the benefit of the drivers and managers actually it was just put in to keep the payrolls down - one of the Zoner team once told me they could pay for it by cutting an average of 8 min off each route company wide.

Hey how about this one - talk about penny pinching cheap A$$ people - Zonar was also intended to seek out the paid but not WORKED hours, in other words if you were on a guaranteed 2 hour run and only worked 1:45 that 15 min goes into an acount and if the driver happens to go over 40 hours for other work or charters the paid but not worked kicks in and reduces the OT payment.
Like I said petty.

How's that for good thoughts.

Good luck and have a great summer.

Edited by - WallyG on 06/11/2010 04:52:31 AM
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NathanW
Advanced Member

United States
313 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2010 :  5:59:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Any good thoughts on Zonar? Don't use it, and the only two buses we have with it have the feature disabled.

Any good thoughts on how they keep track of our time? We submit our standard hours at the beginning of the year and that's what we get paid for the year (unless major changes happen). If we deviate from the standard hours we submit paperwork why and then get paid for that time.

Any good thoughts on the GPS system? Don't have it, yet. We're supposed to get it over the summer though.

Any good thoughts on the professional manner of your office staff? I love my manager. If she were ever to quit I'd leave too.

Any good thoughts on the mechanics and the buses? My mechanic is great, but I don't like my bus that much.

Any good thoughts on the governors being set at 58 MPH? Mine is set at 65 (since I have to drive on the freeway a lot).

Any good thoughts on the computer clock when the bus reaches over 3 minutes in idle, the bus will shut off when in park? Don't have this either, then of course my bus doesn't have a "Park" I just place it in neutral and set the parking break.

As for First Student as a company...*shrug* It's got some good, some bad. Where I work it's a little goofy in that a lot of rules they have for the big city don't pertain to us out here in the sticks.


Nathan--Driver Extraordinaire
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bus724
Top Member

USA
1609 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2010 :  6:33:29 PM  Show Profile  Visit bus724's Homepage  Send bus724 an AOL message  Reply with Quote
quote:
As for First Student as a company...*shrug* It's got some good, some bad. Where I work it's a little goofy in that a lot of rules they have for the big city don't pertain to us out here in the sticks.



Like always use a spotter when backing up? (Company policy unless absolutely unavoidable) Send out a spotter when I have to back up in the yard, parking between two other buses, with good lighting, controlled traffic, and all pedestrians supposedly wearing safety vests. At 6:15 am (complete darkness several months of the year), when I get to the town line up in the woods and have to back into a driveway, no street lights for miles around, cars coming up the hill doing 50 in a 25, vehicles parked in a different spot in the driveway every day, and unleashed dogs and dark-clothed pedestrians, I'm on my own.

Constant safety messages regarding city traffic, but I've yet to hear anything addressing real-life situations I encounter on a regular basis such as meeting a 16ft wide farm tractor on a 20ft wide road, who to call when a loose cow is wandering down the street, or how to tell the difference between tree branches that will damage the bus and those that will just scuff the paint (when the alternative is a potential head-on collision on a blind curve). We're trained to be alert for traffic jams, but a "traffic jam" here is either having to wait for more than 3 cars to pass before turning left at one of the two stoplights in town, or getting stuck behind a tractor.
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joymiller123
New Member

1 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2010 :  8:18:31 PM  Show Profile  Visit joymiller123's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Everybody,

1- Zonar; I like this product.
2- Time sheets; you should have had a paper filled out with your time in/out on it.
3-Why do you want to go faster than 58?
4- It cannot idle longer than 5 minutes when stopped- to save the air we breathe and to save fuel.
5- If the office staff is not professional or you have concerns about anything- then you need to contact Human Resources.

Thanks,
http://www.fast-degrees.com
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WallyG
Advanced Member

United States
254 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2010 :  07:36:16 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bus724 the so called safety messages are a joke, they have become ambient noise to the drivers and they don't hear them any more, I have asked drivers after routes what the messages were for that day and they couldn't even tell me they heard them.

Edited by - WallyG on 06/13/2010 07:38:03 AM
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bus724
Top Member

USA
1609 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2010 :  3:41:20 PM  Show Profile  Visit bus724's Homepage  Send bus724 an AOL message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by WallyG

Bus724 the so called safety messages are a joke, they have become ambient noise to the drivers and they don't hear them any more, I have asked drivers after routes what the messages were for that day and they couldn't even tell me they heard them.



Glad to see we agree on this. My manager doesn't admit it, but I can hear by the tone of her voice on the radio that she thinks the messages are stupid. It's a distraction, the radio should only be used for communication that can't wait until you get back.

And I can tell you half of the message: the second part is always about checking for sleeping children. There are drivers who care enough to check every time (myself included), and there are those who don't. The latter won't suddenly start taking the check seriously just because they heard you say it on the radio.
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jscarlsam
New Member

1 Posts

Posted - 06/19/2010 :  06:04:57 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Everybody,


1- Yes i agree that the Zonar is good product.
2- About Time sheets, You should have had a paper filled out with your time in/out on it,
3- what will happened if you go faster than 58?
4- It cannot idle longer than 5 minutes when stopped- to save the air we breathe and to save fuel.
5- If the office staff is not professional or you have concerns about anything- then you need to contact Human Resources.

Thanks,

http://www.baptist-college.com
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imadriver2
Active Member

19 Posts

Posted - 07/21/2010 :  10:16:14 AM  Show Profile  Visit imadriver2's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I also cannot comment on the Zonar as we havent yet had them added. in.. The child safety buttons, I feel are a great idea, the Motion detectors on the other hand, not so much. They are a pain in the rear to deal with while on a charter and you remain on the bus. FS does not allow you to un plug them, but office staff says to cover them with something. I also recently for the first time drove a bus that had been governed down to 58 and shut off after 5 minutes. I understand the reason the states are doing this but, how do you warm up a bus in 10 degree weather when it can only run for 5 minutes? That in itself is going to become a major hazard. I see people putting their buses in gear, or backing every 4 1/2 minutes just to keep their buses running. as for the 58 MPH They have now made that bus a hazard on the Highways were every other vehicle on the road, including semi's, are driving 65 or more.

The new company I work for does not have any type of governor on thier buses nor do they have the 5 minute shut off. not so sure the governer thing is such a great idea, but if all the newer buses come equiped with cruise control than highway driving shouldn't be a problem.
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bus724
Top Member

USA
1609 Posts

Posted - 07/21/2010 :  10:51:55 AM  Show Profile  Visit bus724's Homepage  Send bus724 an AOL message  Reply with Quote
First Student doesn't usually order buses with cruise control. They also think we're too stupid to use it, and have issued safety notices telling us not to use the fast idle switches that are improperly labeled "Cruise Control."
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john6247
New Member

5 Posts

Posted - 07/23/2010 :  3:49:50 PM  Show Profile  Visit john6247's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Imadriver2, becareful about putting things over the seners because FS said they will fire drivers for tempering with their equipment.

Concerning the 58 mile gov. it is a pain in the rump to try to not get killed by the truckers. They cut us off, the drive close to us, blow their horns to get us to go faster in a 65 hour speed zone. Even when we are driving on the right side of the lane. It is what it is.

Also, how many of you were told that you would been fired by fs Nov 1st for not completing the dexerity test? We had over 10 drivers who could not do it or would not do it. And they are still working for us. That put egg on the office, training and we the drivers who did it to keep our job. We had to move this heavy object down the length of the bus as if it was a body. I have no problem doing this but do not threaten our jobs if we do not do it. Anyone else told they would loose your job for not doing this test?
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B. Busguy33
Top Member

USA
3444 Posts

Posted - 07/23/2010 :  3:52:40 PM  Show Profile  Visit B. Busguy33's Homepage  Send B. Busguy33 an AOL message  Send B. Busguy33 a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
They are a pain in the rear to deal with while on a charter and you remain on the bus. FS does not allow you to un plug them, but office staff says to cover them with something.


You can set the Child Check-mate (CCM) to "Charter Mode" when on a trip.
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JK
Top Member

USA
7307 Posts

Posted - 07/23/2010 :  4:41:21 PM  Show Profile  Visit JK's Homepage  Reply with Quote
<< "Anyone else told they would loose your job for not doing this test?" >>

That and more. We would have to put up with constant ribbing. We have to do a physical capacity test and pass it to renew our medical card. And some of us, myself included also have to run uphill upto 4MPH on a treadmill until our heart rate reaches about 150 or so. The state no longer requires the treadmill test, a horrible test for out of shape drivers that may not be required in the future because employer's that order it now have to pay for it themselves. (jk)

'Embrace Life' Public Service Ad - This excellent Ad does not use bullying or threats to get an important message across. Click Here for AD | Website

Edited by - JK on 07/23/2010 4:47:36 PM
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Jarlaxle
Senior Member

79 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2010 :  3:17:25 PM  Show Profile  Visit Jarlaxle's Homepage  Reply with Quote
How long before someone taking the drag-the-weight "test" collapses screaming that he wrenched his back, I wonder? Never have to work again!
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imadriver2
Active Member

19 Posts

Posted - 07/27/2010 :  05:17:59 AM  Show Profile  Visit imadriver2's Homepage  Reply with Quote
John6247...Yes, I was well aware of that policy. I took my chances. Better off than having the damn horn blare every time you moved on the bus.


I seriously can't believe anyone is complaining about the drag the weight test? or the dexterity test. If you cannot pull that weight, How do you think you are going to remove an Unconcious child, or Handicapped child from a bus in an emergency? As for the dexterity..again. If it takes you 5 minutes to get out of your seat. (as with many older or over weight drivers) Your reaction time could mean someones life or death. When we take the job as bus driver, are we not agreeing that it is OUR resposiblity to keep those kids safe?
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90ihcwayne
New Member

3 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2013 :  9:01:08 PM  Show Profile  Visit 90ihcwayne's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hello,
I'm at a First Student in Thunder Bay Canada, been with them since the Laidlaw buyout, I miss Laidlaw. Well John, we have a branch manager that keeps banker hours and doesn't like confrontation with his staff. First is more concerned about money than safety, they moved 25 of the buses to a unlit lot with no washroom, or building drivers huddle in their cars since it usually -40 here in winter. Zonar is crap, my scanner after one day malfunctioned still waiting for repair, log books are better. Our branch has a flat rate system which works for now until First realizes their giving away too many dimes.The GPS is good for if a bus breaks down and your out of radio range they can find you. (Here's something interesting for all of you, Child Check systems makes a Gps upgrade for the thieftmate which is $150x 60,000 buses. First decided on the Big Brother Zonar $895 X60,000= 56,700,000.Money well spent....). Professional manner of office staff, we have 2 disgruntled safty officers, mechanics, our head dispatcher is about as clever as Rose Nylund from Golden Girls. Our mechanics are overworked, and we have had more breakdowns this year than any other I can remember, cuz the company doesn't want to buy parts. Those IC buses are about as good as a Ford Pinto, The Corbeil are great but will be gone in 2 ys, and we no longer have Bluebirds which were the best, too expensive for company, but if they gave a crap about safety, they buy the safest bus. My main problem with first student is that they don't treat us as professional drivers, more like the twits from Monty Python. I'm getting really tired of hearing the 2 times a day safety msgs.
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