Passenger vehicle drivers operate buses, taxis, and other modes of transportation to take people from place to place.
What they do
Passenger vehicle drivers transport people, sometimes across state and national borders. Some drive regular routes, while others’ destinations vary daily. They operate a range of vehicles, from small cars with limited seating to 60-foot articulated buses (with two connected sections) that can carry more than 100 passengers.
Passenger vehicle drivers typically do the following:
- Pick up and drop off passengers at designated locations
- Follow a planned route or drive to a requested destination
- Help passengers, including those with disabilities, get into and out of the vehicle
- Obey traffic laws and state and federal transit regulations
- Follow procedures to ensure passenger safety
- Keep passengers informed of possible delays
- Maintain vehicle by checking tires, lights, and oil
- Keep the vehicle clean and presentable
- Help passengers load and unload belongings
Passenger vehicle drivers must stay alert to ensure their passengers' safety, especially in heavy traffic or bad weather.
The following are examples of types of passenger vehicle drivers:
School bus drivers transport students to and from school and other activities, such as field trips and sporting events, when the academic term is in session. School bus drivers also maintain order on the school bus and report disciplinary problems to the school district or parents.
Shuttle drivers and chauffeurs take passengers on planned trips. Shuttle drivers often drive large vans between airports or train stations and hotels or other destinations. Chauffeurs drive limousines, vans, or private cars and are hired to transport clients either for single trips or on a regular basis. Some chauffeurs do the duties of executive assistants, acting as driver, secretary, and itinerary planner.
Taxi and ride-hailing drivers pick up and drop off passengers, for a fare, on an unplanned basis. Both are summoned, taxi drivers—also called cabdrivers or cabbies—via a central dispatcher or at a designated pickup location and ride-hailing drivers through a smartphone app. Taxi drivers use a meter to calculate the fare; ride-hailing drivers are paid by a credit card that is linked to the app that passengers use.
Transit and intercity bus drivers usually follow a daily schedule to transport people on regular routes. They ensure that passengers pay the required fare, either by managing the fare box or collecting tickets, and answer questions about schedules and routes. Drivers of local transit buses travel city or suburban streets and may stop frequently. Drivers of intercity buses travel between cities or towns, sometimes crossing state lines. Motor coach drivers transport passengers on chartered trips or sightseeing tours and sometimes act as tour guides.
Driving through heavy traffic or bad weather and dealing with unruly passengers can be stressful. Some passenger vehicle drivers may have to pick up heavy luggage and packages, so they must take care to prevent strain or injury.
Some taxi drivers own the cab they drive; others lease it from a dispatch company. Regardless of whether they own or lease their vehicle, taxi drivers may contract with a dispatch company to use its passenger-referral service or facilities for a fee. Ride-hailing drivers typically operate their own vehicles. Taxi drivers and ride-hailing drivers usually pay expenses, such as fuel and maintenance, on their vehicle.
How to become a Passenger Vehicle Driver
Occupational entry requirements vary for different types of passenger vehicle drivers. In addition to education, training, and licensing requirements, some drivers must meet additional standards.
Drivers usually need to have a clean driving record and may be required to pass a background check; they also might need to meet physical, hearing, and vision requirements.
Bus drivers typically need a high school diploma or equivalent. Other types of passenger vehicle drivers typically do not need any formal education; however, many of these drivers have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Bus drivers typically get 1 to 3 months of on-the-job training, but those who already have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) may have a shorter training period. For part of the training, drivers may practice various maneuvers with a bus on a driving course. They then begin to drive in light traffic and eventually make practice runs on the type of route that they expect to drive. New drivers make regularly scheduled trips with passengers while accompanied by an experienced driver who gives tips, answers questions, and evaluates the new driver's performance.
Most taxi and limousine companies provide new drivers with a short period of on-the-job training. This training usually takes from 1 day to 2 weeks, depending on the company and the location. Some cities require the training, which typically covers local traffic laws, driver safety, and street layout. Taxi drivers also get training in operating the taximeter and communications equipment.
Ride-hailing drivers receive little to no training beyond how to work the electronic hailing app so they can pick up customers.
All bus drivers must have a CDL. Some new bus drivers can earn their CDL during on-the-job training. Qualifications vary by state but generally include passing both knowledge and driving tests. States have the right not to issue a license to someone who has had a CDL suspended in another state.
Drivers can get endorsements for a CDL that reflect their ability to drive a special type of vehicle. All bus drivers must have a passenger (P) endorsement, and school bus drivers must also have a school bus (S) endorsement. Getting the P and S endorsements requires additional knowledge, which is assessed through passing a driving test administered by a certified examiner.
Many states require all bus drivers to be at least 18 years old and those who drive across state lines to be at least 21 years old. Most bus drivers must undergo a background check before they are hired.
Federal regulations require interstate bus drivers to pass a physical exam every 2 years and to submit to random drug or alcohol testing. Most states impose similar regulations. Bus drivers may have their CDL suspended if they are convicted of a felony involving the use of a motor vehicle or of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Actions such as excessive speeding or reckless driving also may result in a suspension.
Other types of passenger vehicle drivers must have a regular automobile driver’s license. States and local municipalities set additional requirements; many require taxi drivers and chauffeurs to get a taxi or limousine license. This normally requires passing a background check, testing free of drugs, and passing a written exam about regulations and local geography.
Regulations for ride-hailing drivers vary by state and city. Check with your local area for more information.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires limousine drivers who transport 16 or more passengers to hold a CDL with a passenger (P) endorsement.
The median annual wage for bus drivers, transit and intercity was $43,030 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,710, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,810.
Overall employment of passenger vehicle drivers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Employment of passenger vehicle drivers, except bus drivers, transit and intercity is projected to grow 11 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Taxi, limousine, and ride-hailing services are concentrated primarily in large metropolitan areas, where people are more likely to use this form of transportation. However, most job growth in this occupation is projected to be from the increasing demand for ride-hailing services, the providers of which are typically independent contractors. Demand is expected to increase due to the conveniences that ride-hailing services offer, such as being able to track the location of the requested driver and to pay for services using a smartphone app. In contrast, demand for taxi and limousine services is projected to decline as consumers opt to use ride-hailing services instead.
Additionally, as more school districts outsource their transportation needs, employment growth for school bus drivers will likely be in companies that districts contract with to provide school bus services.
Demand for special-needs transportation will continue to rise because of an increase in older age groups, which typically are more likely to require these services than are younger groups.
Employment of bus drivers, transit and intercity is projected to grow 9 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. New Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems are expected to open throughout the country, which should create additional employment opportunities. Intercity bus travel that picks up passengers from curbside locations in urban downtowns should continue to grow. This form of travel is expected to remain popular due to the inexpensive fares and passenger amenities, such as Wi-Fi.
Similar Job Titles
Airport Shuttle Driver, Cab Driver, Chauffeur, Driver, Limo Driver (Limousine Driver), Motor Coach Driver, Shuttle Driver, Taxi Cab Driver, Taxi Driver, Van Driver, Bus Driver, Bus Operator, Charter Bus Driver, Coach Operator, Motor Coach Driver, Motor Coach Operator, Transit Bus Driver, Transit Coach Operator, Transit Driver, Transit Operator
Subway and Streetcar Operator, Transportation Attendant (except Flight Attendant), Baggage Porter and Bellhop, Parking Lot Attendant, Driver/Sales Worker
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- Amalgamated Transit Union
- American Bus Association
- International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- National Education Association
- Transport Workers Union of America AFL-CIO
Magazines and Publications
- Safety and Health Magazine
- Professional Driver Magazine
- School Transportation News
- Chauffer Driven Magazine
Taxi Driver and Chauffeur:
Transit and intercity bus drivers:
There might not be a vehicle more recognized across the United States than the yellow school bus. School bus drivers transport students in those buses, to and from school and other activities. Every school day, drivers pick up students in the morning and return them home in the afternoon. They also drive students to field trips and sporting events. Between morning and afternoon trips, some drivers work at schools in other occupations, such as janitors, cafeteria workers, or mechanics. These drivers work only when school is in session. School bus drivers are responsible for ensuring the safety of passengers... attending to the needs of children with disabilities... and enforcing the school district’s rules. Most employers prefer drivers to have a high school diploma or equivalent. All bus drivers must have a commercial driver’s license—or CDL, along with endorsements for driving a school bus. Some employers offer the chance to earn a CDL on the job. Whether on a kindergartner’s first day of school, or for a college visit for the senior class, school bus drivers make sure students arrive safely, day in—day out, year after year.
Taxi Driver and Chauffeur:
Taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs drive passengers to and from the places they need to go— whether they’re in a big hurry, or prefer to arrive in style. They must know their local area in detail, including popular destinations, emergency services, and the routes that best avoid rush hour traffic. Drivers follow local regulations, and keep tabs on weather and road conditions that affect driving. Taxi drivers pick up passengers from taxi lines at airports and hotels, or respond to dispatcher calls to pick up a customer. They charge based on a meter that runs while driving, and take breaks between passengers. Ride-hailing drivers set their own hours, and use their personal vehicles to pick up passengers who request service through a smartphone app. Chauffeurs drive limousines or private cars to take passengers on prescheduled trips. They may work for one person, a business or government agency, or drive a large hotel van. Paratransit drivers operate vehicles equipped with wheelchair lifts and other equipment to accommodate elderly passengers, or those with disabilities. Though many taxi drivers and chauffeurs work full time, part-time driving is not uncommon. Schedules may include late nights, early mornings, weekends, and holidays. Drivers experience the stress of heavy traffic, and must load heavy baggage. Drivers must have a regular driver’s license, but there are no formal education requirements… on-the-job training may be provided. Some positions also require a taxi or limousine license.
Transit and intercity bus drivers:
Whether they’re going to work or crossing the country, passengers depend on the skills and courtesy of bus drivers to get them where they need to go. Bus drivers transport people between locations in a city, and across state and national borders. They must drive through all types of weather conditions, handle passenger emergencies, and keep passengers safe, all while maintaining a schedule. Local transit bus drivers follow a daily schedule to drive passengers on regular routes in cities and suburbs. They may collect fares and issue transfers, and often answer questions about schedules and routes. Intercity bus drivers transport passengers between cities or towns, picking up and dropping off passengers at bus stations or downtown stops. Charter bus drivers take passengers on trips or sightseeing tours. Motor coach drivers usually stay with the passengers for the length of the trip, and help passengers load and unload baggage. Most employers prefer a high school diploma or equivalent. Once hired, bus drivers get 1 to 3 months of training, starting on a driving course... then in light traffic... eventually taking practice runs on the type of route they’ll drive after training. Drivers may work nights and weekends. All bus drivers must have a commercial driver’s license —or CDL— with an endorsement for driving a bus… good hearing and vision… and a good driving record. Some employers offer the opportunity to earn a CDL on the job.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org