After interviewing Thomas Bridges, there is a new perspective on the diligent faculty members of the transit system. Not only does Bridges enjoy his job, but he dedicates his time to making sure the students enjoy their ride with a friendly face behind the wheel as well.
How long have you worked for the university and what made you decide to?
I actually don't work for the university. I work for Groom Transportation and they are under contract with the university, but I have worked for about three years. I used to have my own dump truck business, but because of health reasons I had to let it go. Now I only work part-time, but letting go of my business is what made me decide to start driving the buses.
What do you enjoy most about your job and what is the most memorable moment or story you have from being a transit driver?
I enjoy talking to the students. If there are only one or two students on the bus they usually strike up conversation, but if the bus is full it is less likely for anyone to be talking to me. All of my memories of making friendships with students or having them recognize me when they see me again are my favorite. I enjoy talking with the international students and hearing all of the different stories.
There was one international student who was actually excited about introducing me to her baby one day and on a different occasion she introduced me to her mom, too.
If you could change anything about your job what would it be?
I honestly don't think I would change anything about my job. I'm satisfied with the way things are. I would love for the students to know that there are always a few supervisors from Groom Transportation available for questions or comments. A university supervisor stands with my supervisors from the company at the main transit stop on campus every day.
Have you ever driven the Toomer's Ten at night?
No, I have not ever driven one of those buses. However, I enjoy hearing all of the stories that those drivers have. The stories they have are very entertaining!
Are there any aspects that students are unaware of?
Not really, but I wish students would be more understanding about why we sometimes drive faster or slower. It is not about how we want to drive, it is about staying coordinated with the other buses on that run and making sure we are on time. As long as we are on time, the students will get to their stops as efficient as possible. I also don't think students understand that once we start moving we are not allowed to stop. It is not that we don't want to give them the ride, but once we are in the roadway we are not allowed to let anyone else on the bus except for at designated stops.
Do you believe the students are appreciative or have you ever had a bad incident with a student?
Oh no! I've never had a bad incident in all the three years I have been driving. Everyone is very appreciative and most of the students say thank you. If someone doesn't say thank you it is usually because they are pre-occupied with something else. I once had a girl on the bus who was just staring at the window with an upset look on her face. "That would make a great picture," I said to her. "Why do you look so upset today?" I couldn't help but laugh when she said, "I'm thinking about my bank account." Moments like that make my job enjoyable.