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I Love Transit: The journey from bus fan to transit operator

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Chris and his trusty steed, a 2008 Orion V Suburban

Chris and his trusty steed, a 2008 Orion V Suburban

The words “I love transit” mean a lot to Chris Cassidy.

His foray into the transit world was years ago. His grandfather drove a bus for BC Hydro back in the day and as he grew up, Chris became fascinated with buses and bus routes.

Chris’ passion for transit soon brought him two great friends with similar interests who decided to take and collect thousands of amazing photographs of buses!

That was then when he was a teenage transit fan and this is now. Now, Chris is a bus operator!

Read on about his journey from enthusiast to operator!

Hello,

My name is Chris Cassidy and I’m a transit operator with Coast Mountain Bus Company. Some of you may know me from BusShots.com and a I’m a huge transit enthusiast!

The interest with transit started when I was quite young. My grandfather used to be an operator, hired back in the BC Hydro days and retired a few years ago with CMBC.

I remember riding around on my grandfathers bus going through White Rock in the early 2000’s. He always got one of the brand new, New Flyer low floors. I liked keeping track of all the different runs we’d do, and watching the world pass by us from the big windows.

Cherry blossoms? Check. Big yellow bus? Check.

Cherry blossoms? Check. Big yellow bus? Check.

A few years after my grandfather retired I came across a local message board, the primary topic? Vancouver transit. At first I thought it was a bit strange, but I joined anyways to see what it was about. Not long after that, I picked up a camera and started making my own little trips around the system.

Through these little adventures I’d end up meeting two of my best friends and fellow bus nerds, David Lam and George Prior. Over the following years I tracked down, rode and documented hundreds of buses across Vancouver. Riding all the new routes, riding routes being replaced (like the 98 B-Line) and exploring this city.

The beautiful farm fields of Delta. Taken while I was heading back to the depot after a PM trip through Tsawwassen

The beautiful farm fields of Delta. Taken while I was heading back to the depot after a PM trip through Tsawwassen

During these travels I became close friends with a few operators. I was a young teen, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and doing ride-alongs with the operators was a good time filler. A routine was developed with one operator who turned out to be my neighbour.

After class was dismissed, I’d run home, drop off my bag, grab my camera and run over to his house. From there we’d drive to the depot, take a bus out for the afternoon rush and complete a few trips. Once we did our trips, we’d take the bus back to the depot and I’d get a ride home. It was my daily routine and really pushed me into the seat. After a few months of this routine it finally dawned on me, I HAD to get behind the wheel!

After high school I worked a few customer service jobs, got my full class 5 license and kept myself out of trouble. To be honest, the thought of driving a full sized 40′ bus through downtown seemed a bit overwhelming and I planned to apply for community shuttle first. But, all those operators that I knew, told me to go big and apply for conventional. So, I did… and I got called in for the video test on a crisp November day.

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Posing the bus at the perfect angle for photos before leaving the depot, a daily routine for me.

It’s been just over a year since I finished training and I’ve enjoyed everyday as much as I can. Some expected my passion for transit to diminish but, if anything, it’s only grown! Driving has opened up a whole new technical side to things that I haven’t experienced before. You learn all the neat quirks of each bus, how some have a certain shake at a certain speed, or how some have faster lifts. It can get quite geeky when you get down to the minor details, like horns, but I love it.

I drove in Vancouver for 7 months before I was transferred out to Richmond, a mecca for bus nerds. There are the old low floors, the Orion highway coaches and, of course, the big diesel articulated buses. It was love at first sight with me and the Orion highway buses so, I’ve tried to drive them as much as possible. There’s nothing quite like an early evening cruise down highway 99, watching the sun set over the fields in Delta, while behind the wheel of an Orion V. Just the thought of it makes me smile.

Starting Labour Day, I’m off on another new adventure. I’ll be transferring out of Richmond, and into the Burnaby depot. This gives me a chance to drive the famous 99 B-Line, the ever popular runs to SFU and everything on the North Shore. I’ll miss Richmond quite a bit, but a new challenge is good. Plus, I’ll get to knock off some routes that I’ve never driven before, or ever rode for that matter!

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Overall, I’m a transportation geek. So, when I had a chance to get a photo of my coach for the day with a train in the background, I had to use it!

While I’m still quite young and I’m not sure if I’ll keep driving for the rest of my career, I know I’ll never leave transit. What started as a silly hobby, turned into dozens of lifelong friendships and a career I truly love.

My name is Chris Cassidy, I’m a transit operator with Coast Mountain Bus Company and I Love Transit.

Transit enthusiasts take note because this could be you! Thanks to Chris for sharing his awesome experiences and inspiring the next generation of transit fans.

Author: Adrienne Coling


4 Comments

  • By Maxwell Chang, August 31, 2016 @ 8:11 pm

    Hey Chris, that is a wonderful story to provide. It really shows your history of this field and its wonderful to see a young person to keep fulfilling the dreams of your family. Keep up the wonderful work as a transit driver. Hopefully, to bump to you in the Burnaby routes.

  • By Peter M, August 31, 2016 @ 10:35 pm

    Congratulations Chris! Hope to meet you on a ride!

  • By Eugene Wong, September 1, 2016 @ 11:26 am

    Congratulations, Chris!

  • By Brian cook, September 1, 2016 @ 5:19 pm

    Good article. There is only one person I know that is more of a transit enthusiast and he is in the training department. John Strachan. Wonderful driver amazing personality and a true transit enthusiast. Just like Chris.

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