On 15 Sep 21, I joined a transport company to drive 20-foot mini bus. After 3 months, I’m still enjoying the job. I’ve driven trains and taxi before. Now I’m driving a 3rd generation Toyota Coaster sending workers back home and fetching them to work. Each mode of public transport has its own merits. But I find driving mini bus more of a challenge. Driving taxi is the easiest as it is similar to driving a normal car. Whereas trains are on auto mode most of the time with fixed routes and stations.
Since I stopped driving taxi in Jan 2017, I’ve not driven a car for more than 4 years not to mention a 20 foot mini bus. I was quite worried and unsure how to handle the mini bus when I joined this transport company. The basic requirements are Class 4 driving license and vocational license with at least 3 years of driving experience. I got my Class 4 in 1995 and I passed my vocational license for taxi and bus in 2014. Any vehicle above 2.5 ton need Class 4 driving license. The mini bus I’m driving is above 3.5 ton with 20 seating capacity. It is a 3rd generation Toyota Coaster with 5 speed manual gear. Link
I was fortunate that President Wee and Alan Taxi are always around to guide me since they are also working for the same company. For the 1st month I was busy sending and fetching mini buses to workshop for repair and maintenance. I also sent them for yearly inspection. There are more than 20 mini buses to maintain such as regular servicing, changing of tires and light bulbs etc.
I still remember when I first took the wheel of the mini bus. I was clumsy and so fearful of the “white monster”! AT gave me many tips on how to handle in his own words, this “white monster”. President Wee gave me nearly one week of personal coaching on how to tame this 15 year old big bone shaker! Yup all our mini buses are more than 10 years old with manual gear. New ones are equipped with auto and smooth quiet engine. Mine is noisy, rough and tough to engage the gear. Whenever it goes over bumps and uneven road surfaces, my old bone shaker will shake uncontrollably.
I not only fetch and send workers from home to work and vice versa, I also need to fetch and send pax to hotels at times. President Wee brought me to some problematic hotels in town to familiarize me since some of the hotels’ entrances are quite tricky. Unlike taxi where you could make an U turn easily if you miss the entrance or the minor road leading to the hotel, 20 footer mini bus need to make a big round as it’s not easy to make U turn on dual carriageway. Mini bus could only make U turn on a 3-lane road, not on a 2-lane road due to its length size.
After handling the white monster for more than a month, I got a knack of it and could now handle it with confidence. I’m now on permanent night shift sending workers back home and fetching them to work in the early morning hours. I prefer night shift as it’s much cooler, less traffic on the road and easier to maneuver around especially within HDB car parks when I pick up workers from their HDB blocks.
On 15 Dec 21, it will be 3 months of driving mini bus. I’m much more confident and sure of handling this “white monster” as I continue to clock more and more mileage driving mini bus all over the island. Whenever I sit on the cockpit of the mini bus, I’ll have a bird’s eye view of the road as it’s much higher than a taxi. I could also travel freely on bus lane during peak hours to cut the queue which is a privilege reserved for buses on our public roads. It’s much more satisfying than driving taxi since my mini bus could fetch 20 pax at one go! Hopefully I’ll continue to enjoy driving mini bus for the next few years until I decide on my next job.