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A day in the life of a Sportran city bus driver - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

A day in the life of a Sportran city bus driver

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Contina Taylor begins her shift on the Night Run 201 for Sportran. Contina Taylor begins her shift on the Night Run 201 for Sportran.
SHREVEPORT, La. -

When most people are wrapping up their work day, Contina Taylor's is just beginning.

The 40-year-old mother of four begins her shift about 6:30 in the evening by picking up daily paperwork - and her bus - at the Sportran garage in north Shreveport.

"I just make sure all of my gauges and everything are as they should be," Taylor says as she boards her bus for the evening.

But before her bus can ever leave for the night, Taylor has to complete a checklist to make sure things like headlights and tires are in working order.

"Everything seems to look okay out there so now I can stow my ramp," she says as she finishes up her exterior walk-around.

Once inside, she ensures her wheelchair ramp and on-board electronics are ready to roll.

"This [box] is where we input all of our numbers, employee numbers, route number, run number."

But for Taylor, this isn't just a ride from one stop to another. The June Employee of the Month says a clean bus is a matter of pride.

"I'm just basically doing a walk-through to make sure my bus is clean and there's not some other passenger's belongings left behind."

When it's all systems go, she heads to the downtown terminal for the official start of her 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift.

And though she's been driving buses for years, first for Caddo Parish Schools and now for Sportran, her training began much earlier.

"My dad was a driver. I traveled with him a lot as a child."

Taylor drives the Night Run 201, which takes her by places like the Shreveport Police Department, Fairgrounds Field, Willis Knighton North, and Pierremont Mall.

Her route takes an hour, and she'll make that run six times before hanging up her keys at the end of the night.

"You climb in a truck and you're the biggest thing on the roadway, and you're looking out over everything else."

The Shreveport native says this doesn't feel like work when you love what you do, but she's quick to remind you that she's all business when she's in the driver's seat.

"I may speak to you twice, or ask you twice to ask you to behave, and after that, they know I'll have them removed from my bus."

A disruptive passenger is a non-negotiable, Taylor says, because any distraction that takes your attention from the road can lead to disaster.

"If you're neglectful, that split second you're not paying attention and someone in front of you stops or whatnot, like maybe you were fidgeting with something that could have waited."

It's a bus driver's worst nightmare - a fellow transit operator was seriously injured earlier this month in a crash caused by another reckless driver.

Those crashes are a huge liability for the City of Shreveport, and city officials have taken steps to reduce the risk.

Surveillance cameras were installed to increase security and decrease unfounded claims.

The city's risk management office is also pushing for bus drivers to be trained in defensive driving.

Though Taylor says, after a crash, your training kicks in and you essentially begin to operate on auto-pilot, calling in to dispatch, and gathering passenger and witness statements.

"Ask to see if everyone's okay or if you have any injuries, then I'll notify my supervisor and security, plus any police who are on duty [near the accident]."

Taylor's never been involved in an accident while at work but says she once had a passenger health scare.

And she adds she feels obligated to stop if she notices trouble on city streets, because, she says, it's the right thing to do.

"I have access to a phone where I can immediately get security whereas they may not."

It's a bit of a bumpy ride, but not necessarily uncomfortable.. and taylor says she sees many of the same faces all the time.

And as dusk sets in... And passengers come and go.. she prepares for her return to the main terminal.. to do it all over again.

"They ride everyday, they depend on you and I can honestly say that's a good feeling."

Sportran has a fleet of over 50 buses and lift-line vans that make about 12,000 stops every day.

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