Lynette Bittner has been in the driver’s seat for eight years.
Bus & Motorcoach News caught up with Bittner over Thanksgiving weekend in Flint, Michigan, where she had safely delivered the national tour of “Fiddler on the Roof” for performances.
It was one of her first assignments since joining Ohio-based Croswell VIP Motorcoach Services nearly two months earlier. She previously worked for Young Transportation & Tours in North Carolina for six years.
“I wanted to do more of the longer trips. I loved the jobs I had with Young doing all the sports teams, but I wanted to do more of the over-the-road work,” Bittner said.
Driving around talented performers felt like a full-circle moment for Bittner, who attended college on a drama scholarship.
“They do great on the bus,” she said of the cast. “When they get on the bus, they always say, ‘Lynette, how are you doing? Did you eat?’ They’re very caring. They are always talking to me and taking an interest in what I have to say. It’s great. I love them.”
Bittner spoke to Bus & Motorcoach News about why she loves driving a motorcoach, her career highs and lows, and her passion for the business.
What’s the strangest or most bizarre group you’ve driven?
I can’t think of one, but one of my favorite groups was the Notre Dame softball team. I was with them for five years, and I made friends with all the coaches. I have many favorite groups. Whoever is sitting behind me is my favorite at the time.
What’s your go-to phrase?
Lord keep us safe. I say that every time I get in the driver’s seat.
How did you become a driver?
A friend of mine was head of transportation for the local school district where I lived in the Kalamazoo area in Michigan. She kept bugging me to come to drive for the school. I had a childcare center and I had a small bus, so I had experience driving. I went ahead and got my CDL. I loved driving the buses, but I didn’t like having all the kids on the bus. I saw a big bus on the interstate one time – it was Indian Trails (based in Owosso, Michigan.) I was like, “Oh, that’s a pretty bus,” so I applied for a job. Within a week, I was in training with them. I just fell in love with the business. I love getting paid to drive all over the place.
What were your previous careers?
I worked in childcare for 22 years. I was getting burned out and needed to do something different.
How many miles or states have you driven a bus?
I’ve been to at least 30 states, including Alaska.
What’s your favorite or least favorite destination and why?
My least favorite is New York City, hands down. The Lincoln Tunnel gives me anxiety. I’ve done it many times, but still.
My favorite destination is Alaska. For two summers, I drove for Alaska Coach Tours in Ketchikan taking cruise ship passengers on excursions. That was on my bucket list, and I would like to do it again.
What’s your favorite bus feature?
The “kneeling the bus,” where the front end goes down, making it easier for passengers to get on and off because it doesn’t sit up so high.
What’s the best compliment you’ve received?
The best compliment is when a group leader says I’m going to request you for our next trip. That’s always a good feeling.
What’s your funniest travel story?
I was driving a minor league baseball team. We were at one venue where I had to back the bus into a two-lane area. I backed the bus in with no problem; never readjusted. It went perfectly into the spot.
The pitching coach sat behind me and says to the team, “Careful guys, Lynette can back an 18-wheeler in the crack of your butt. They laughed, and when they got off the bus, they were covering their butts with their hands.”
What’s the best piece of advice for a newbie?
I always get nervous before a trip, and I’ve been driving for eight years. So if I hear a newbie say something about being nervous, I tell them to work with those nerves because that keeps you safe. Those nerves keep you alert and aware of your surroundings. They’ll keep you safe.
What’s your career highlight?
It was taking the Western Carolina University band to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City two years ago.
What question should we have asked you?
Q: how long do you plan on doing this?
A: Until I can’t pass my DOT physical.
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