Bus and Motor Coach Library

Keeping up Appearances – The Value of a Uniformed Driver

Author – Ian Balfour (2005)

The bus has been cleaned, state of the art entertainment system installed, the newly applied bus graphics highlighting the name of your company in bold, vivid color leave no doubt as to your professionalism and attention to detail.  And then out steps the driver…

Often times the only representative of your company that has direct contact with your riders is the driver, and you need it to be a lasting and positive impression.  The driver is not only responsible for getting your passengers to their destinations in a timely and efficient manner, but must act as security, customer service representative, special needs professional, and general liaison for your company.  Looking the part can go a long way toward solving problems before they start.

A uniformed driver will speak volumes about your operation.  If the driver is courteous, friendly and professional, that reflects on the professionalism of the driver. However, if the driver is uniformed, that professionalism reflects on your company as well.  Uniformed service shows that you take your responsibilities and your daily operations very seriously and gives your passengers a sense of security and a feeling that they are in good hands.

"In recent months the transportation industry has been under public scrutiny due to an increase in major accidents involving bus passengers that were seriously hurt or worse. Whether it is due to road conditions or reckless driving by other vehicles, it is a given that the person behind the wheel is a professional bus driver.  Questions of experience, training and ability to handle emergencies are an assumption we all make under these circumstances," says Dan Wallace of Wallace Workwear, who has been in the uniform business for over 38 years.

"The driver must be clearly identifiable to all passengers at a moment’s glance.  'See the guy in the white shirt or wearing the blue sweater,' is not good enough.  Visibility, safety and security all lead to having the confidence that the company your traveling with has gone to the limit to ensure all of those issues have been addressed," said Dan.   

To put things in another light, would you get on a plane if the pilot arrived wearing jeans and a t-shirt? Probably you would think long and hard before boarding.  For sure, as you were sitting in your seat waiting for take-off, you will certainly wonder about the qualifications of the pilot?

According to the ABA, motorcoaches in the U.S. and Canada carried an estimated 860 million passengers in 1999, 774 million passengers in the U.S alone. Compare this number to the 568 million passengers who traveled the commercial airlines and the 377 million passengers who travel the rails, you will see bus drivers are responsible for the safe arrival of more passengers than any other mode of commercial transportation.
"Uniforms no longer carry the stigma of the conventional, constricting, cookie cutter shapes, colors and fabrics of the past.  The modern uniform comes in a vast array of contemporary offerings, all designed with the end user in mind," says Kara Hurley of Executive Apparel.  Executive Apparel has been manufacturing and distributing career apparel and uniforms for over 60 years.  "There are many options available for a bus company, depending on specific needs and regional location.  Fabrications are very important in giving a driver the necessary durability and comfort, with characteristics developed for changing environmental conditions," says Hurley.

Having uniformed service can benefit not only your riders but can have added benefits in the workplace. Uniforms take the guesswork out of employee attire.  No longer will you have employees with varying concepts of color that can cause conflict when trying to enforce a dress code.  Uniformed service enhances the feeling of teamwork and adds a sense of "family" to your operations.

South West Metro Transit Commission (SMTC), which operates over 50 buses between Chanhassen, Chaska, and Eden Prairie, Minnesota, has been using a custom designed uniformed service since 1986.  With passengers from three cities relying on their services, SMTC knows the importance of a professional appearance.  Passengers know to expect courteous and qualified drivers when they see the SMTC uniform.
"Implementing a uniform policy was very well received by our driving staff; they appreciate the added level of professionalism it offers," said Len Simich, Executive Director at South West Metro Transit.

Having uniformed service instills a sense of pride and respect for the professional driver.  Passengers quickly identify with the feeling of comfort and safety that accompany a uniformed driver, knowing that the uniform carries with it the qualifications and the training of a capable and professional driver.