Bus Training

Damian Cox, a driver with the Apple Bus Co., practices her driving skills during a refresher course on Monday morning. All of the drivers at Apple Bus took part in the refresher course on Monday or will take part today in preparation for the school year.

With school starting this Thursday in St. Joseph, bus drivers are getting in some last-minute training.

Beginning Monday, about 75 drivers with Apple Bus got a refresher course on operating the vehicles and interacting with students at the now-closed Lake Contrary Elementary School.

“We’re wanting our bus drivers to brush up on their driving,” John Poe, the fleet manager, said. “So we’ve made it a little bit harder than what they typically would find in doing their daily driving.”

Drivers practiced turning, clearing low bridges, backing up and more through obstacle courses at the old elementary school. Along with the technical training, the drivers also reviewed how to interact with passengers and their parents.

“It’s interactions between students and the drivers, they’re talking about the new routes that are going to be coming out and how to address parents’ concerns,” Poe said. “At the first of the year, they want to know where their child’s bus stop is going to be and make sure they get that all ironed out.”

Poe said Lake Contrary is a good location to practice as the Apple Bus Company is moving a portion its 110-bus fleet to the location to make bus routes more efficient.

“This new location will make everything more efficient as far as routing goes,” Poe said. “Before, we were running all of our routes out of our north location, and it just didn’t make sense doing routes all over town from one location. This will be a lot better, now that we’re down here.”

Jessika Eidson can be reached

at jessika.eidson@newspressnow.com. Follow her on Twitter at @NPNowEidson