Dublin Express, the big wheels are rolling…
The day starts off with a trip to the depot, where the coach for the day will be waiting. I get myself on board, do the interior checks (first aid, safety equipment etc) and then the next task will be the settings of the driver’s seat and mirror adjustments. These are important because if I’m not comfortable and don’t have maximum visibility I could be a danger to myself and others on the road.
Back outside again, I carry out my vehicle safety inspection. This takes about ten minutes, even though I know that the garage staff will have looked after any defects and replacements.
Now it’s time to head into Galway Coach Station. I have to be there one hour before departure as I need to check the pre-booked passenger list and any other special instructions or requirements, and to deal with those who come for early boarding.
I like meeting people. I find folk generally are OK and that’s great, but there are occasions when a bit of sadness becomes a reality, like when a son, daughter or a friend is about to leave, possibly to a destination far, far away. I recall that very situation just before last Christmas, when I had a family of six on the first leg of a journey to Canada in the hope of setting up a new life there. It’s a sign of the times but sad for the ones seeing them off.
The time for departure creeps up fairly fast, so it’s time to do a final count of passenger numbers, get everyone strapped in (a legal requirement) and off we go.
People appreciate being informed so it’s important to tell them our arrival time at their destination. If we have been delayed for some reason, we’ll let them know because people may have someone waiting on arrival, or indeed be tight on time for a flight.
On the M6, we can feel the comfort and luxury of the coach. My thoughts often drift back to the times when air-conditioning meant sliding a window open, or one of the passengers pushing a roof vent open, while wrestling with a multi speed manual change gearbox! Now the automatics have changed all that.
On the motorway, I often wonder why some car drivers drive so slow when overtaking my coach. Maybe they don’t realise the speed limit for cars is 120km? When there is a very strong wind blowing, it’s a bit difficult to keep a coach in a straight line, a sudden gust can push it to one side or the other so it would definitely be safer to get by as quickly as possible!
In just over two hours, we’re approaching Heuston Station. Most times, a small number of passengers disembark at this location. My concern here is always that passenger might take a wrong piece of luggage from the coach by mistake. It’s dead easy and it has happened!
Why don’t people travelling put some sort of identification on their luggage? All that is required is a piece of cord, a shoe lace, a piece of tape tied around the handle or some other mark on there,
But what if another piece of luggage carries identical markings, I hear you say? Well the chances of a perfect match here is pretty slim, I would think!
Imagine arriving at the airport check-in desk on your way to your dream holiday only to find that ‘your’ bag contains football gear, while somewhere in Dublin, there is a guy preparing to tog out for an important match only to find a lady’s dress and high heel shoes in his bag.
OK let’s carry on. Before we know it, we’re bidding goodbye to our Dublin City passengers as they leave the coach and then repeat the process a short time later at Dublin Airport. Time then to switch off and take the mandatory 45 minute break and a cup or two.
Most of the time the job has a ‘feel good factor’ about it and I really have to say that 99.9 per cent of people I would meet in a day’s work are OK. It is really great to get nice comments about the drive or the service provided from passengers as they disembark.
A vibrant teamwork is provided by fellow members of staff, be they management, other drivers and administration. Basically it’s a one man job for six hours a day but when the chips are down and something goes wrong, the management team are always at the end of the phone (a hands-free one!) and the problem becomes history in a very short time.
Thank you and kind regards to all the travelling public, I look forward to seeing you on your next journey.