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Here is a first-person account of a day in the life of a Vancouver bus driver

Reddit user darklizard posted a breakdown of their day as a transit operator in the Lower Mainland, starting from the moment that they wake up.
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 Photo: Downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - December 31, 2018: Bus driving on Granville Street. / ShutterstockPhoto: Downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – December 31, 2018: Bus driving on Granville Street. / Shutterstock

Have you ever wondered exactly what a day in the life of a Metro Vancouver bus driver is like?

Reddit user darklizard posted a breakdown of their day as a transit operator in the Lower Mainland, starting from the moment that they wake up to their last thoughts before bed. Entitled "99B-Line Bus Driver - A Day In The Life," their post, which was uploaded Nov. 25, already has 1,600 up-votes and a whopping 262 comments in under 24 hours.

The driver wakes up at 5:05 a.m., noting that they get to select comfortable clothes rather than their uniform due to job action. They prepare breakfast and coffee, lamenting how they already feel rushed but can't afford to wake up any earlier. They add that they don't have their own car and their transit commute is an hour and a half but that they always leave a little buffer - their shift starts at 7:15 a.m.

Once they arrive at the bus depot, the driver mentions that he has to do a "pre-trip" on the bus to ensure that it is safe for the public. They note that they are allotted 20 minutes to complete this task, but that if anything goes wrong, "I won't have the time to catch up and will be running late for the next few trips, so I start a bit early."

The driver mentions that they are scheduled to leave for UBC at 7:43 a.m. From here, they say that they arrive a tad early (7:41 a.m.), but that they see a regular running for the bus. After waiting, they end up leaving 45 seconds down. From here, they head to Commercial-Broadway, but they end up two minutes behind schedule.

By 9:17 a.m., the driver decides that it's better to pick people up than to stretch their legs. Since they are already behind, they don't see the point of only enjoying one minute of recovery time.

"I have 39 minutes of 'running time' to make it to UBC - 3 years ago I used to get 43 minutes to make this trip," explains the driver. "I'm not sure why the 4 minutes got removed but there's been no infrastructure improvements to actually help me get there faster."

An hour later, the driver mentions that they could really use a "toilet break," but again obliges the passengers who are waiting in the rain.

Next, the driver says that a man yells at him to "do my f**king job and that I'm a useless driver and he needs to get off right now. He says to let him off or he's gonna make me let him off."

Since the driver doesn't want to fight, they pull over as soon as they can and the man hops off; they add that there hasn't been transit security on their bus for over two years.

Once their first shift is over, they board a millennium line train heading back towards the Burnaby depot, because there's not enough time to head home before their next shift.

"I'll try to have a nap at the depot," they write. "I arrive back at the Burnaby bus depot, there are two couches in the drivers’ room but as usual, they are already taken. I sit in one of the eating area seats and rest my head on the table, putting my hoodie underneath to give a bit of comfort."

While at the gym, he speaks to another driver about the transit strike, highlighting how a few more minutes of recovery time won't change his life.

"Getting an extra 15 minutes pay isn't going to make a big difference in my life, but I know what will. Having the chance to get out of my seat and walk around so my back stops aching. Having the chance to use a meditation app to decompress after stressful situations. Having the chance to go to the bathroom when I need to instead of holding it in until I can't any longer. Having time and the facilities to heat up my food to have a warm meal instead of eating cold meals all the time. I wonder if the company would save more money, in the long run, having healthy, happy employees who don't have to book time off after suffering through the fully preventable back, shoulder, leg, knee, and mental injuries."

During the second shift, the driver notes that there are cameras all over the bus that can be used, "to nitpick my decisions and determine if there was anything I could have done up to this moment to prevent an accident."

Once they arrive home, they only have the energy to feed their cat and pop in a microwaveable dinner. Their body aches, and they take medication to sleep.

"I'm tired of feeling like my supervisors don't have my back when I need to make split-second decisions throughout every single day. I'm tired of my company choosing not to do better when it is well within their ability to. I'm tired of being treated like a number instead of a human being. I’m just so tired but I've got it all again tomorrow so I better catch some sleep."

As the transit strike enters its 21st day, Unifor, the union represents bus operators and transit workers, prepares for what Unifor President Gavin McGarrigle calls a "complete transit shutdown."

While Unifor has stated that it will continue negotiations until midnight, if no agreement is reached, a three-day strike will begin, affecting about 350,000 transit users.

Read the full account here.