MTA bus driver in traffic 11 years

AT WORK

November 02, 2005|By NANCY JONES-BONBREST | NANCY JONES-BONBREST,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Dennis Harvin

Bus operator, Maryland Transit Administration, Baltimore

Age: 34

Years in business: 11

Salary: $20.96 an hour - about $43,500 a year.

How he got started: Harvin considered nursing but chose driving instead. Harvin's father and uncle drove buses for the MTA and now both operate trains for the light-rail system. "Growing up I always remember seeing Dad driving, taking care of us and always coming home in a pleasant mood."

Typical day: He works the "early straight" shift from 4:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. When the shift is over, the bus driver switches with his replacement at a specified bus stop. Harvin's division serves routes in the city, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County. He is an extra operator, which means he fills in for people who are sick, on vacation or out for other reasons. As a full-time backup driver, he drives all 15 lines or routes in his division. He says his favorite is the No. 14 line to Annapolis because it's so scenic.

On driving: "We are always on the defense. You are always looking for the unexpected to happen so you can react to it. You never get too comfortable because when you do, that's when something will happen."

The good: "Serving the public."

The bad: Road rage: Dealing with people "who may have woken up on the wrong side of the bed." He also doesn't like it when the weather is bad.

The numbers: There are 50 MTA bus routes. A typical route has about 60 to 80 stops. The bus holds about 45 seated passengers and another 20 standing.

Being safe: It's tough to stay on schedule, Harvin says, but safety is the No. 1 priority. "Whatever we do we are going to try to do it in a safe manner to get the passengers from one destination to another without any accidents. Then we will worry about the time schedule."

The conversations: "Sometimes you think you are a counselor or psychologist because people get on the bus with all kinds of problems. Sometimes people tell you things you don't want to hear, but you just have to keep a smile on your face. I'm a people person and that is one of the reasons I decided to take this job."

Philosophy on the job: "Whatever you put into something, that's what you are going to get out of it."

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