A Day in the Life of Thomas Burns: An OCCT Blue Bus Driver

Posted by Sophia Cohen on February 20, 2019

With their motto of “run by the students, for the students,” Off Campus College Transport, more commonly referred to as OCCT, is Binghamton University’s bus company, offering students free rides to a number of locations around the area. Junior Thomas Burns not only spends his time driving these big, blue buses, but also helps teach his peers about safe bus operation as a veteran trainer. Come take a look into what an average day on the road is like for this School of Management student!

Thomas Burns

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Hometown: Saratoga, N.Y. 

Year: Junior 

Major: Business Administration, entrepreneurship concentration

Minor: Spanish

Career Aspirations: Transportation and logistics management or to start his own transportation company! 

 

Tom's Average Tuesday

5:45 a.m. - Wake up and get ready for his shift

6:30 a.m. - Leave the house

6:45 a.m. - Shift starts. Arrive at bus garage and inspect the bus.

7:15 a.m. - Begin getting people from downtown to campus, and back again.

10:15 a.m.- Shift ends. Go to a computer pod, get some work done. Hang out with friends in the OCCT office.

11:40-2:40 p.m. - Class

3 p.m. - Head home. Go to the gym. Get some homework done.

7 p.m.  - Grab a Taco Tuesday deal with friends.

10 p.m. - Go to sleep so he can do it all again tomorrow!

 

Why OCCT?

When I came to school, I needed a job to help pay for college. I met the OCCT assistant training coordinator at orientation and learned all about how you can be trained on campus to get your CDL Class B license and get paid to drive. It sounded like a steady job that was also interesting and fun. I came into college with a general interest in auto and diesel mechanics, but OCCT has opened up a lot of opportunities and interests that I did not know I had, and taught me things I didn’t even know about myself.

 

What was your training semester like? 

My first semester in Binghamton was the semester that I started training. Like all other freshmen, I was taking classes and exploring clubs at the beginning. Once I started OCCT training, it made me more academically focused. It pushed me to get my work done sooner instead of procrastinating, because I knew I had this new opportunity to commit my time to.

Training involves a total of fifteen hours per week, both on the road and in the classroom, to learn how to properly and safely operate the bus.

It can be overwhelming at first to drive this huge vehicle with so many people around, but the trainers are your peers who help you out and guide you through the process. It’s students teaching students.

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What is one of your most memorable driving stories? 

Back in November, during that unexpected snowstorm. It started to pick up around 3 p.m. and just caught everyone off guard. OCCT was worried about getting students home, as roads were starting to get messy, or closed entirely. Campus shuttles had a hard time just getting around campus, and our OCCT director was out of town for the day.

So a lot of drivers banded together and put in extra hours, because our main goal was to get people home safely. Normally, there is only one dispatcher on duty. This time, we had four. We started pulling extra drivers from around campus to help by taking on extra shifts. Everyone came together at the end of the day and we made sure that people got home safe.

OCCT is a very supportive environment. We’re all just trying to help each other out. You know that someone’s always got your back.

 

What are some challenges you face on the job? 

We are also students. We go through everything normal students do: tests, projects, all-nighters. Sometimes you’re just not in a good mood, but you still have to conduct yourself professionally. You have to remind yourself that this is a job and you just have to power through. Several hours on the road can really get to you, and driving can actually be harder on your head than on your feet.

However, you always need to conduct yourself as a professional. Always be alert and defensive on the road, because you are responsible for the safety of those on your bus and everyone around you.

 

What do you enjoy most about the job? 

Watching my trainees pass their road test. When you get to work with them from day one through to the end and then see them pass their road test, it feels like a little accomplishment. It makes me happy to see their pride and happiness in themselves.

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Is there anything you want students to know about drivers? 

A ‘thank you’ or ‘have a nice day’ can go a long way. Also, never be afraid to ask us a question. We would much rather you ask us than for you to get on the wrong bus and waste your time.

 

What is your motto for getting through college? 

Just be your own person. At the end of the day, what matters most is that you are happy. What other people want might not make you the happiest you can be. I want to look back on my life and say, "I made this decision for myself and I’m happy because of it." There are so many opportunities to explore while you’re here at Binghamton. There are so many ways to express yourself and find out who you want to be. Exploring here will help you make decisions for the future that will then help you be happy.

 

For route schedules, service updates or more information about OCCT, visit their website


For route schedules and live bus tracking from your phone, download the ETA Spot App. Available on both the App Store and Google Play.

 

Think you have a busy or interesting life as a student? Know somebody who does? Send in nominations for a "A Day in the Life" blog by e-mailing social@binghamton.edu.

Sophia is a junior English major who loves exploring all the opportunities Binghamton has to offer. In her free time ,she likes to bake, listen to classic rock and hang out with her Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi sisters.