As part of their latest recruitment drive, Go North East is running open days for people to get behind the wheel of a bendy bus. So how hard can it be to handle? Newcastle Evening Chronicle reporter Adam Jupp found out…
Michael Davison, my instructor for the day, yelled: “You could get a bus through there man”, as I tried to wind my way through a set of cones placed on the tarmac.
“This is all about getting rid of the fear. Most people think it’s dead hard to drive a bus but it’s not that hard is it?” he adds.
After a shaky start, I took to bus-driving like a duck to water. A few circuits of the giant car park and I was ready to negotiate my way around the obstacle course set out in front of me.
My “new toy” was a seven-and-a-half-tonne, 36ft Go North East bus and it was a flying machine. I weaved in and out of the markers and did it again for good measure.
Of course, all this is easy to say when you’re in an empty car park with only cones to run over.
Not to mention the fact that none of the 62 passengers I would be ferrying around were sat behind me.
After the obstacle course I tried my hand at reversing. I had a flashback to my real driving test seven years ago as Michael said: “I’d just like you to pull up alongside the curb and reverse around the corner.”
A bead of sweat appeared on my forehead but I gave it a go. Michael, who has driven buses since 1993, said: “You’ve got to remember, when you’re driving a bus you’re steering the back wheels.
“And you’ve got to turn much later than you would in a normal car but other than that, it’s just the same.”
The less said about my reversing efforts the better. It was hand brake and neutral then back to my Ford Focus.