There is a comment on a recent post about someone who has taken up riding round on buses using his over 60s pass. Been there, done that, no tee shirt though. The furthest distance I have been so far is Illfracombe for a day trip. I spent twice as long on the bus as I did in Illfracombe but it was still an interesting day out. Well Ian, I'll try answer your comments about how awful the job is. The driver you talked to drives a Megabus so his work paten is nothing like that of a local bus driver. I can drive up to the W.Midlands and back to Torquay in just under 9 hours driving time and don't feel as tried compared to doing the same number of hours on a number 12. Motorway driving only becomes a problem if the motorway gets seriously congested and then only to the passengers. They want to get somewhere, the driver isn't all that bothered. Also I know from both driving a bus and coach and travelling as a passenger which is the easier. The driver has something to do even if it is dealing with passengers and the traffic where as all the passenger has to do is ask him/her self, "Are we there yet." Mechanical problems, again nothing I can do about that apart from apologise to the passengers, keep them informed and await rescue. I'm not particularly bothered if I don't get to where I am going, that's the job of the passengers. This might sound a bit callous on my part but if you don't take this attitude then the job will very quickly become too stressful and you will leave. Similarly with unsociable hours. No one comes into the job not knowing that buses run from 6 am to past midnight and someone has to drive them. Actually that statement isn't true, I have come across drivers who didn't understand that from time to time it's their turn to take the first bus out in the morning and sometimes bring the last bus in at night. I remember standing in the control room at Torquay listening to a new driver complain. He had just noticed he was working the following Saturday and was having a go at the controller. No one told him he had to work weekends. At the hotel staff in the restaurant and kitchen worked split shifts. This meant coming in at 7am, working till 10am then going home and coming back at 5pm until 8pm. That is a 13 hour day but for 6 hours pay, now that is as unsociable as you can get.
I hope you carry on riding around on the buses, there is much to be seen out there. Take photos of where you go so you have a record. Also I find when I am on a long trip a good pair of earphones and an mp3 player helps to get you through the boring or the stressful bits.
PS. I have stacked shelves at Tesco, there are worse jobs, a lot worse, but bus driving isn’t one of them.