Something happened to me a couple of days ago that brought back a memory from about a year or so ago……..
I was quite happly on my last trip of the day before running my bus back into the garage. All was going well that day and things were very quiet. I was travelling down a road towards a set of traffic lights. They were on green so I just lifted off the gas a little bit just incase they changed to red. It was then that I saw a person on standing right on the edge of the pavement. Normally I dont usually think much of this as they usually take a reflexive step back just as the bus gets near. This person, however, didnt. She looked right at me. Right in the eyes.
“Oh god dont you dare” I muttered under my breath
She stepped out into the road. Didnt run STEPPED.
Bus moving at 25mph+
15 tonnes and 5 passengers + 1 driver
“OH GOD NO” I yelled as I stood on the brake pedel. I stood on it so hard it lifed me out of my seat.
The bus responded amazingly well. Almost too well. The powerful airbrakes clamped onto the wheels and attempted to bring the bus to a halt in a distance just slightly greater than the length of the bus (about 15ish feet).
It managed it with inches to spare.
I slumped over the wheel the adrenaline draining from my system and looked up to see the woman look at me. She thanked me for not hitting her in the universal way (two fingers) and strolled off.
As I gathered myself I opened the cab door and leaned around it looking to make sure that my passengers were ok. They were a little shaken up but not hurt in anyway and were more concerned about me.
I had braked so hard that the rear wheels had locked up and left long skid marks on the road.
Shortly afterwards the radio bleeps into life with a request for a bus that had just been involved with a near miss to contact the depot. I call in and tell them that I am ok and will tell them everything thats happened when i get in.
So about 30 minutes afterwards I return to the depot and report the the traffic officer telling him everything that happened. It turns out that there was a bus on the other side of the road that saw everything and knew the woman involved. She was a well known mental patient that got out and was trying to kill herself.
All of my passengers had called in after I had dropped them off to make sure that I was ok. They had all left their phone numbers so I asked the controller to call them back and tell them that I was ok. One even said that she was going to write in to my manager to tell him what a good job I had done.