Driver one with the road

Updated: 2012-01-13 07:36

By Liu Xiangrui (China Daily)

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ZHENGZHOU - "As soon as I sit down, I already feel like an integral part of the bus," said driver Wang Ziwen.

Driver one with the road

A student says goodbye to Wang Ziwen, a school bus driver in Zhengzhou, Henan province. Yang Donghua / for China Daily

"Nothing but the road has any effect on me."

As the last student steps down from the bus and waves Wang goodbye, the 41-year-old begins to clean inside the vehicle, then circles its exterior to give it a final check before he locks the door and leaves for the day.

Despite the high standards required, Wang finds being a school bus driver comparatively easier than driving other vehicles.

Wang tried tour and public buses during his 20 years of driving before landing his present job at the Kangping Primary School in Zhengzhou, Henan province.

"Sometimes I had to drive quickly because passengers were in a hurry to get to the office. Or I needed to pick up as many passengers as possible to make more money," he said.

He picks up and delivers the students for free as the cost for the buses, including their operation, is funded by the local government.

"The school bus is not for profit, and there is no need for me to hurry. All I need to do is to focus on driving and getting children home safely."

The job suits him well, Wang said.

"I love children. Getting along with them is easy for me," he smiled. "What's more, I can have enough time to stay with my own child after I get off work, because there is no overtime for me now."

Though it takes him an hour to get to the school, Wang arrives on time every morning and sets out to pick up the 40 students at about 7 am. He travels two rounds every day, a distance of roughly 30 km.

He spends no more than two hours a day on the road, and the rest of his time waiting on the bus. He'll have a quick and casual lunch at noon and stay put to wait about two hours to collect the students for afternoon classes.

According to Wang, his work requires extreme patience, because he has to drive very carefully and slowly.

"Meanwhile, I have to keep cool when other vehicles overtake me and block my way, which happens quite often," he said.

His colleague Li Shuancheng, 48, who guides and looks after the students on Wang's bus, is impressed by his road skills.

"He never gets distracted. He can always manage to let the bus run steadily, and riding it is an enjoyable experience," he said.

Although Wang is enthusiastic and talkative most of the time, he hardly speaks while driving, Li added.

"All our drivers were strictly selected. They should be very experienced drivers," said school staff Shi Lan, who supervises the regular operation of the buses.

It took Wang many years to gain such good driving skills, and he has his own way of cultivating patience, Wang said.

"I look after my son during my off hours, and I always try to hold my temper no matter how naughty or cranky he gets," he said.

Wang has his own suggestions in terms of safety about school buses, too.

He said other vehicles should be patient with school buses, which run slower, and give them a little more space.

"And it would be better to have special spots for school buses to park," he said.

Currently students have to wait by the roadside outside their communities, and accidents may happen when some students only pay attention to the arriving school bus and neglect other vehicles, Wang said.