Image via @wcu_shuttlebus_lisa on Instagram.
Shuttle bus driver Lisa, as she is best known on campus, met me after her day shift at the Church Street shuttle for our interview. Welcoming me onto her bus, Lisa kindly checks where I need to go after our meeting, ending up with us parking in M Lot.
It’s a seemingly busy day on campus, with the surprise 75 degree Spring weather bringing students on to the Academic Quad. Lisa’s experience working at West Chester University is immediately noticeable, with her remarking on how the campus has grown quieter over the last 15 years. “15 years ago, Uber wasn’t around. All the kids rode the bus. Then the Uber experience kicked in, and the kids didn’t want to wait. Uber is all over the place. And it was really slow and boring.”
How long have you driven for the University?
I actually drove 23 years. Okay… I’m gonna say about 17 years down in West Chester. I’m not positive on that, but it’s close. Yeah, yeah. I started out part time. Well, yeah, part time is generally a part time job. I started out just as an express bus driver, like, first it was one day a week and it ended up being two days a week and then my husband lost his job and took on some nights, that sort of stuff.
Do you usually work day and night shifts?
Lisa: I do. It’s an odd, really odd schedule. Technically, I’m supposed to be working Mondays and Wednesdays. It’s supposed to be like seven to nine then I get to my other job. Tuesdays and Thursdays are supposed to be like seven to four thirty, but with the shortage of drivers, they pull me sometimes to work the school district and then Friday… And then Friday mornings, it’s supposed to be some seven to nine, then I’m supposed to come back two to four. Then I come back for the night shift. And then Saturday nights I do the night shift. Yeah, yeah. Generally, I’m supposed to be a West Chester U driver, period but we’re hurting really bad. There’s a driver shortage, a teacher shortage.
Lisa leases her bus from Krafts Group, picking it up each morning before her shift. Although it is not hers, she treats it like her home away from home. Even with the new purple and gold West Chester University wrapped buses, Lisa’s bus still stands out.
Do you decorate your bus for different occasions?
Yes. I just have the lights right now because I don’t know what else to do. I didn’t want to do Easter because it’s a Christian holiday sort of thing, so I try to stay away from that for the most part. I do the different colored lights that can go along with all the holidays, but it’s not a lot, you know. Halloween is what started that. Last year, I really did it up. I actually had never gotten dressed up for Halloween until the year that I decorated here. I was an elven queen so I had vines all over the place, with the lights, and I made a makeshift lantern for the front.
Has your experience with students on campus been overall positive?
Yeah. I’ve never had any bad situations. I’ve had one or two incidents in 17 years. Okay, there was this one time, it was a Homecoming about 10 years ago. I was packed to the doors every loop from the time of the game till the time I left. The place was just like swarming.
Are you aware of student’s appreciation for you?
Yeah, so. It was so weird, the weekend you guys came back from Spring Break, they’re all getting on and “we appreciate you, Lisa.” There was a group of maybe like five? I had some issues with in the beginning of the year, and they’re all getting on the bus and then “Hey, Lisa, thanks for picking us up.” Blah, blah, blah, then they got off and came back and the one was saying “We really appreciate you” and I said “thanks, I appreciate you too.” I’m at the Clubhouse and I look over and they’re all sitting there giving me the heart with their hands. I try. I try to take care of y’all.
Lisa has a second job as a massage therapist, in addition to various shifts driving for WCU, and driving for the local public school district. She remarks on how she studied art on West Chester University’s campus as a first year student, and tells me about her daughter’s own art endeavors. Lisa carries a bag displaying her daughter’s art buttons on her bus, showcasing her support, even going as far as to say that she wants to put her daughter’s stickers on her car but is worried that when she sells her car, they will be gone.
Lisa makes herself available to students regularly. From announcing when cars are being ticketed by Public Safety, to protecting items lost on her bus, she is always going the extra mile. Notably, after conducting this interview, two female undergraduate students told me the story of how Lisa waited, past the end of her shift, to ensure they were not walking home in the cold. These student stories of Lisa’s kindness are not few and far between, but instead very common. When asked about the student’s appreciation for her, Lisa remained very humble, if not a little emotional, remarking on how special that is to her. Greeting everyone who steps onto her bus, Lisa showcases how beneficial it is to promote kindness and positivity in everyday life. Thanking me for my time, Lisa heads off to her mom’s for a family dinner.
Emily Hart is a fourth-year English major. EH943163@wcupa.edu