Bus drivers honored for their service to community


The Hastings community showed its appreciation to a vital part of its workforce on Wednesday, Feb. 21.
The day is set aside as Minnesota Bus Driver Appreciation Day, and local officials enjoyed lunch and camaraderie with drivers at the Hastings Bus Company. Mayor Mary Fasbender joined Hastings School Superintendent Dr. Tamara Champa and Hastings School Board Chair Carrie Tate who visited with a couple dozen of Hastings Bus Company and Minnesota Coaches’ finest. Company owner Pat Regan and Hastings Terminal Manager Terry Johnson shared stories with drivers of decades of providing the important function of getting students to school on time safely and returning them home at the end of the day.
Regan recounted one driver who handled the Hampton route.
“In 18 years, he only missed work for his dad’s funeral, and he missed the day of his brother’s funeral, and he was threatening to work the day of his brother’s.”
Tate said that when she put her daughter on a bus on the first day of school, she got a big surprise.
“I looked at him, and I said holy cow, that was my bus driver,” she said.
Regan credited Johnson’s three-plus decades of service and all the drivers for their dedication to their job.
“They’re great. They have servant hearts. They really care about kids, but they have a unique skill set. They’re professionals. They got to know the kids and how to handle kids,” said Regan. “Terry was telling me this morning abut a real good training program that gives them tools on how to discipline kids without alienating them. If it’s a situation where you have to deal with one or two kids and it doesn’t relate to everybody else, you don’t single them out.”
Drivers typically work for a few hours in the morning and afternoon. The Hastings Bus Company has training programs, and many drivers start as bus aides and work their way up.
“We just love our drivers. They’re wonderful people. There’s always a need for more,” said Regan. “A lot of people start as a bus aide and then take a van route which gives them a higher pay but they don’t need the CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). They can be driving special education students in a regular passenger van, and then if you want to work your way up a little more and get your CDL and make more money, then you can learn how to drive the big buses while you’re still working, which is nice. There’s a nice transition that people can go through, with bonuses and profit sharing.”
Anyone interested in driving should stop into the Hastings Bus Company, 425 E. 31st St.
The Hastings School Board also recognized the drivers at its regular monthly meeting that evening with drivers filling up the front rows of audience seats.
“We are so incredibly thankful for our partnership and all that you do each and every day. We just can’t thank you enough for what you do,” said Champa. “There are many jobs in the district that I say, ‘I could do that.’ You have one that I always say, ‘I could not do that.” Thank you so much for all that you do.”
Tate read a proclamation from the State of Minnesota honoring bus drivers.