Granby " Conversation with … Gus Harris, bus driver with 44 years in the district
May 13, 2008
Gus Harris knows everything there is to know about a school bus.
He pulled his first activity trip for the East Grand School District in 1964 and has been shuttling around district students and caring for district busses ever since.
The Walden native and resident of Granby since 1954 is a former mayor of Granby from the late 1960s. Harris also served on the school district board in the ’60s, and was a board member on the first-ever Grand County Planning Commission. He was once owner of the trucking line NPT, owned a gravel pit and has been involved in construction on-and-off throughout his career.
Senior citizen Harris is now a part-timer with the district as a bus driver, mechanic, trainer and test facilitator.
What do you like about driving a school bus?
“The kids. It offers them a chance for travel, and I like to drive and travel.
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“I enjoy the kids; I can see the good in them, and we do have good kids here.”
For many people, having 50 students in an 8-foot-wide, 40-foot-long metal space would cause headaches. How do you do it?
“I just get along with kids.”
Do you have a route?
“I don’t drive a regular route anymore. I ‘retired’ in 2000, technically, but I’m still driving.”
For what do students need discipline, usually?
“Mainly just speech and when they’re moving in the bus when they’re not supposed to.
“My philosophy is that kids are totally safe while I’m driving. I’m not going to let any accident happen as long as I am in the front, so the kids are safe behind me.
“As a matter of fact, kids are safer in a bus than in a personal car. They’re 18-times more likely to have an injury-accident in a car than in a bus.”
I imagine busses have changed a lot from when you first started.
“We’ve gone from gasoline engines with two-speed axles and manual transmissions, to diesel automatic transmissions and lots of safety features.”
Busses today are safer?
“A lot safer.
“And the district has very good busses that are well taken care of with the best tires money can buy and the best equipment money can buy for the safety of our students. A lot of research has gone into our vehicles.
“We are also proud of our facility here (the East Grand Schools Transportation Facility). It’s one of the nicest facilities ” particularly for this sized district ” in the state. We can pat the community on the back for that, and thank it for its concern and for its backing.
“We’ve never had an injury accident in this district; we have a very good safety record.”
In general have students changed over the years?
“They’re pretty much the same, maybe changed a little. But kids are kids.”
Do you have children of your own?
“My wife and I have 8 children and 13 grandkids, so we have to like kids!”
What pet peeve do you have regarding other drivers while you’re at the wheel of a bus?
“They’ve always got to get ahead of that Big Yellow Bus.”
I’ve seen East Grand busses pull over as a courtesy to let trailing cars pass by. Is that a standard practice?
“It is standard practice. Where we can safely get off of the road to allow it, we’ll get to the side to let people by.”
Will you be working here next year?
“I’m working a little less each year, but I’ll probably keep going a few more years.”
What is a fond memory you have from driving bus for so long?
“One girl had quit school. I had made a friend of her, and I strongly requested of her to get her GED; she had been a problem student. Then in summer, she came up to me a year later and told me that she had gotten her GED. I guess that was one of my proudest moments.”
” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.