Andy Anderson has been in the driver’s seat for more than 55 years, most of it driving tractor-trailers. His only regret is that he didn’t make the switch to motorcoaches sooner. He began driving coach four years ago during his “second retirement” and is enjoying the many perks of the job. He recently won a trip for his driving expertise to the 2022 UMA Motorcoach EXPO, which will be held in Long Beach on February 23-27, 2022.
Anderson began his extensive professional driving career getting behind the wheel of tow trucks and dump trucks. He learned to drive tractor-trailers by moving them around the service shop. He says he got his first trucking job in 1968, hauling freight through Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. During his 35-year career, he worked for three carriers: three years with Wilson Freight; 20 years with Signal Delivery, a contracted carrier for Sears and Roebuck; and 12 years with Active Transportation, a driveaway company that delivers new and used vehicles all over the country.
“I have traveled in all lower 48 states and most of the Canadian provinces,” said Anderson. “We also delivered new and used buses, besides trucks of every size and shape. After retiring in 2004, I spent some time driving a gas tanker part time. Once again retiring in 2016, I returned to driving in 2017 for Cardinal Transportation in Columbus, Ohio. The last estimate I had on the miles driven over my career was well over 10 million miles.”
That experience paid off in July when he came in first place at the fourth Midwest Bus & Motorcoach Association Roadeo. He’ll advance to the international contest, which will take place in February at the 2022 UMA Motorcoach EXPO in Long Beach, California.
Anderson’s first experience driving a bus actually dates back to 1982 when his oldest daughter was in a high school marching band. The board of education donated a school bus for the band to use with the stipulation that the organization supply the driver.
“I already met their basic criteria as I had a full Class A license. I then got my school bus certificate to satisfy their insurance company,” he said. “While I never hauled students, I put many miles on that bus, hauling band instruments to football games and band competitions throughout the Midwest.”
Bus & Motorcoach News caught up with Anderson to talk to him about why he loves driving a motorcoach, his career highs and lows, and his passion for the business.
What’s the biggest tip you received and the story behind it?
The biggest tip I ever received was $850 for an eight-day trip from Ohio through Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
What’s the strangest or most bizarre group you’ve driven?
A comic book convention was in town. I was driving a shuttle from local hotels to the convention center. It was also Halloween weekend. I just blinked twice, shook my head and kept driving.
What’s your go-to phrase?
It is what it is, or WHAAT?
How did you become a driver?
When I was a kid in the ’50s, there was a TV show called “Cannonball” about the adventures of a pair of long-haul truck drivers as they hauled cargo all over the U.S. and Canada. As I was walking to school, I would make believe I was driving that truck as I walked. I even had a stick as my gearshift.
What were your previous careers?
I started driving tow trucks in 1964 and have been driving since. In the late ’60s, I grandfathered into a Class A chauffeur’s license. In the ’80s, I grandfathered into the current commercial driver’s license (CDL).
How many miles or states have you driven a bus?
I have never sat down to try to figure out how many miles I’ve driven are just on buses. I have operated in every state east of the Rockies and Ontario, Canada.
What’s your favorite and/or least favorite destination and why?
My favorite was Maine. I had a great group, and I love that area. My least favorite is a tie between New York City and Washington, D.C. These areas are the most “bus unfriendly” areas of the country. They love the tourist dollars but treat the drivers that bring it to them like crap.
What’s your favorite bus feature?
Legroom for my old knees and air-ride seats for my back.
What’s the best compliment you’ve received?
Just received it yesterday. I was told by my group that I am an excellent driver and that they felt safe with me behind the wheel.
What’s your funniest travel story?
I had a senior group. I loaded everyone’s bags and almost forgot mine.
What’s your best piece of advice for a newbie?
Just be careful. Check your mirrors often. Know your own skill and confidence level and stay within it. Don’t try to follow in someone else’s footsteps. Skill level and confidence will increase with experience.
What’s your career highlight?
While I have had a few scrapes over the years, I have never hurt anyone by the grace of God.
What question should we have asked and what’s your answer?
Q: What regrets do you have going from trucks to buses.
A: None, though I wish I had done it sooner. I love our product. The way you treat your clients is what sells your product. You treat people the same way you want to be treated and you’ll have a good day.
Read more From the driver’s seat columns.
If you are a motorcoach driver and would like to be featured in From the Driver’s Seat, contact Shandra Martinez at email@example.com.