North Texas Daily

Day in the life… of a UNT bus driver

Day in the life… of a UNT bus driver

October 03
22:12 2012

Melissa Wylie / Intern

The brakes squeal and the hydraulics hiss, but as passengers pile onto the Mean Green bus on weekday afternoons a friendly, bellowing, “Hello!” can be heard over the surrounding noise.

Larry Little drives the Mean Green bus route around the UNT campus.

This is his fourth year driving for the Denton County Transportation Authority and his ninth semester at UNT.

Little said his day begins with a pot of coffee and a trip to the bus barn on S. Mayhill Road.

He picks up his bus – generally the same one every day – and heads to the UNT campus, where he will transport students on the Mean Green route from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m.

With such a set schedule, Little said he tends to recognize faces and often turns a bus ride into an opportunity to share experiences.

“I try and get to know students,” he said. “I try to find out what the young people are up to. You’re never too old to learn.”

Photo by: Michelle Heath

Little said his day normally runs smoothly. The DCTA dispatch center notifies all drivers via radio cell phones of any major occurrences such as road closures.

He said that if a bus breaks down, a hassle he himself has experienced, a replacement bus or a mobile mechanic is on the scene quickly.

Little said that while he enjoys being paid to drive and talk with students, he must continuously stay alert.

“You have to be real cautious to people not paying attention,” Little said. “And watch out all the time, because you never know what’s going to happen out there.”

In addition to keeping an eye out for wandering pedestrians and cyclists, Little documents boarding passengers at each stop on a chart he keeps near the dashboard.

The passenger chart is accompanied by the schedule of stops and how long the bus is required to wait in certain locations.

Pre-biology sophomore Deja McKnight said she rides UNT buses all over campus and appreciates the convenience.

“It’s good that it goes everywhere you need to go,” McKnight said. “There’s hardly any on-campus parking, so it’s easier to get around.”

Little’s responsibilities go beyond the bus. He is also an executive officer for the local transit union.

The intentions of the driver’s union are to improve employee working conditions and maintain community activism, he said.

Little said he was elected into his leadership position within the union, a feat that required personality traits that have aided him throughout his career.

Little is retired from the telephone service industry. He worked for Verizon for exactly 25 years and one day.

“This is so much different, but it’s still a public entity,” Little said. “You have to have personality and patience to deal with people.”

Kinesiology freshman Lashiya Madden said the UNT buses are her main source of transportation because she lives on campus. Madden said she spends time on multiple buses and has had positive experiences.

“Everything is really good,” Madden said. “The drivers are pretty friendly.”

Little makes an effort to engage students in conversation, but he said technology keeps most students quiet and occupied.

Nevertheless, he finds ways to interact with his passengers.

“My favorite question to ask the students is what they want to do when they grow up,” Little said. “When they say ‘I don’t know,’ I say that’s a good answer.”

Having so much experience in the service industry, Little said that common courtesy goes a long way. His piece of advice to students is to simply say thank you to those behind the wheel.

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