The woman behind the wheel of WT’s shuttle bus

Elaine Brown drives the shuttle bus for the afternoon shift at WTAMU.

Elaine Brown drives the shuttle bus for the afternoon shift at WTAMU.

It’s almost like we take them for granted. They pick us up at the First United Bank Center and drop us off at a location closest to our class after we say “Thank you.”

There are four shuttle busses and eight drivers, plus two relief workers. Elaine Brown, one of West Texas A&M University’s shuttle bus drivers, is the only female driver amongst them.

“It’s a man’s world, but I don’t care. All the guys are nice to me, so it’s nice,” Brown said.

Brown was struck by a drunk driver while riding a bicycle two decades ago, loosing her leg on the scene of the accident.

“I’m an amputee, and there are some things that I cannot do,” Brown said. “Drive, I can do.”

When she found out about the position, she came to see if she could get in and out of the shuttle and check if they were automatic transmissions.

“When I knew I could physically do everything, I went and got the commercial license,” she said.

Brown, as an amputee, had to obtain a limb waiver which was another process for her to go through in getting her commericial license.
“[WT] is the only place I intend to drive,” Brown said. “I love it.”
Prior to being a shuttle driver and before her accident, Brown was a physical education teacher. After the accident she became a special education teacher.

“I taught school and you had some students who loved you and others who didn’t want to be there,” Brown said.

Brown said she dealt with many personalities during her time as a teacher, but everyone she has met driving the shuttle is as nice as they can be.

“[Students and workers] say, ‘Thank you,’ and, ‘See you again, you’re appreciated,’” Brown said.

Since she works driving the shuttles, she sees people move around and go places.

“We do the same route everyday but every time you go around, it has a different look about it,” Brown said.

She said she likes the people she works with, and she finds them  nice and in tune with taking care of the shuttle drivers.
“I think that’s important,” Brown said. “But I love carrying the people who work at the university, the staff, professors, the students, athletes. We move people everywhere.”
One of  her biggest challenges driving the shuttle is when it comes to bad weather.

“I cannot deal with ice and snow,” Brown said. “I cannot physically deal with it now because of my left leg.”

Even though she can walk well, and has a good prosthesis, if there were to be high winds or something similar, she could have problems.
“I’ve only called in once in three years because of the ice,” she said.

Brown said if there was one thing she could change, she wouldn’t want it to snow on days that she worked.

“But I can’t think of a thing I would change about my job,” Brown said. “I’ve got the schedule I like, I’m in the afternoons so I get to swim a mile every morning, and do what I need to get done in the mornings.”

University Police Department Lt. Patrick Coggins is the Director of Support Services at WT, and one of the requirements to be a shuttle bus driver is to have a Class “B” Commercial Driver’s license.

“They also need a passenger endorsement, suitable employment history and a favorable background check,” Lt. Coggins said.

The university made a major investment last spring by purchasing four new shuttle busses.

“[They have] not required much maintenance thus far,” Lt. Coggins said. “Regularly scheduled maintenance is recommended by the manufacturer.”

According to Coggins, the shuttles transport approximately 1,200 people on average each day.

“On Friday, the demand for transportation is generally less, so numbers drop off on Fridays,” Coggins said.

Executive Assistant and office manager at UPD, Carla Banks said when looking for drivers, it’s important that each candidate be courteous, friendly, observant and a very good driver.

“I use the shuttle bus every day, four days a week,” Jason Madison, senior Computer Information Systems (CIS) major, said. “They never crash, and that’s what I want.”

The shuttle bus drivers at WT are David Scott, David Sims, Mike Royal (Coach), Stanley Gardner, Don Switzer, Elaine Brown, Robert Mayhan, Mark Jolly, Joe Ortega and Johnie Price.