The Texas Tech Citibus system was implemented to make it easier for students to get around the campus. Different bus drivers, ranging from students to retirees, drive students to locations around campus.
Mary Adams has been a driver for Citibus for four years. Adams was used to driving big rigs and normal school buses before she started driving for Tech, she said. This opportunity gave her the chance to spend time locally with her family.
Adams said there was a major difference in driving a bus of college kids and driving a normal school bus.
“The biggest difference between that and driving these students around is the maturity of the students,” Adams said. “Texas Tech has very polite students.”
Adams drives many of the routes around campus, she said. This does not give her the chance to connect personally with students.
“For me, it’s just saying ‘good morning’ and the students say ‘thank you’ all the time,” Adams said.
Calondra Bradley, a Citibus driver for two and a half years, said she has had more personal relationships with the students on her routes.
“I have some of the same students on my routes each day, and we know pretty much how each other’s day is like,” Bradley said. “They know what time I am going to get off and how many more rounds I have and I know where they are going.”
More than 800 students ride on Adams’ bus in a seven and a half hour period, she said. The age of students affects how social they are with the drivers.
“The older the students are, the more talkative they are,” Adams said. “The older students are more interested with what’s going on around them. Freshmen are generally very shy.”
Memorable moments come from having that many students on a bus per day, Bradley said. The weather also makes events memorable.
“The flooding has been the most memorable experience while I have been driving so far,” Bradley said. “It floods so much on campus. It’s funny watching the students trying to tread through water. Driving through it is not very difficult, but trying to avoid splashing students walking is difficult.”
Driving a bus also brings some weird experiences, Bradley said.
“Some of the weirdest things that I have seen are when the students are doing the Humans vs. Zombies game,” Bradley said. “They use the bus as a shield during the game. I have fun watching them participate in the game.”
Austin Scott, a senior music education major from McKinney, was hired by Citibus in February and is in the middle of training, he said.
The education part of the training is extensive, Scott said.
“It’s a lot of classroom stuff,” he said. “There is a test that you have to take to get the permit and then four more written tests before you take the road test.”
After the tests, trainees get to accompany the drivers with experience on their routes, Scott said. Called cubbing, trainees observe the drivers on their routes and then, after a certain number of observations, get to attempt it on their own.
Scott wants to be an S driver on the night shift, he said, and other S drivers have told him about some weird experiences during their routes.
“I’ve heard from other S drivers that they have seen some fights outside of Chimy’s and Crickets,” Scott said. “They have said that they have seen two very good fights.”
Scott said he thinks being a driver will help him when he becomes a band director after he graduates.
“If I’m ever in a small district and I have one bus full of band students,” Scott said, “I could save money by renting a bus and driving it myself because I have the CDL. It takes less money out of the budget because I don’t have to pay a driver.”
Bradley said there is one major thing that keeps her doing this job, and that is having relationships with the students.
“Knowing that I am contributing to the students’ education is the best part of my job,” Bradley said. “I am providing transportation, that’s all I can do, but I am contributing in some way.”