You don't three years of driving a bus or cdl. Just 3 years having a driver's license, driving a regular car. Yes, they still train without you having to commit to working for a certain time period.
Yes, they still hire a bunch in the spring, very busy in the summer and it slows down in the fall. Most new drivers quit before they are done training. If a city needs 4 new drivers they hire 10. Only 5 or 6 will complete the training and 3 more will likely quit within a month or too. The problem is not lack of work but too much work. Drivers are maxing out their 70 hours, which driving bus means you are really at 80 hours (if you are riding [not driving] on the bus after you drove and are not driving anymore for that day you don't have to log it as on duty). Most are getting called of their fresh time.
Now when it comes to storys and crazies I have my share of good ones to tell but you get use to it and learn how to handle it. I nip it in the butt right from the start so I'm likely not to have any problems up the road. The winter is also busy, if the weather is bad older drivers will call in left and right. Hell, I know drivers in Las Vegas who never drove in snow. If it was a run to Grand Junction they didn't take. Phoenix via Flagstaff nope!
How do you learn all the routes when you are on the extraboard ? Also how do you know when to sleep or plan anything if you are on call 24/7. What if you just went to bed and you get a call where you must drive all night.
I left 16 yrs ago, but back then, they had "Route Guides" which were sheets of paper giving directions to each stop. I would hope they've updated to something you could have on your iphone. Right now I guess you could just use your gps app on your iphone.
The extra board was rough and sometimes you just drove when tired. It was rough from phoenix to el Paso at night when tired. I would keep 2 cans of room temperature coke. 1 can would keep me awake for 2 hrs, the 2nd can for another 2 hours. By then you've stopped somewhere and bought more coke.
We did have the option of just saying: "I'm too tired to drive right now." I did that once but should have done it more than that.
We had an El Paso driver who would drive for 2 or 3 hrs then pull over and call for a replacement driver to come out and replace him. He would then order ppl in the far back seat to move so he could lay down and sleep. He didn't last long.
The mexican buses from L.A. to El Paso would do that. They'd take I-10 to Hwy 85 down to I-8 in Gila Bend, and take I-8 to Casa Grande and pick up I-10 again, totally bypassing Phoenix. They'd switch drivers in Gila Bend.
Most of the passengers were ppl Greyhound wouldn't load. I'm convinced They were paying off Greyhound mgmt in L.A. to turn the passengers away. The mexican bus co. had a "terminal" right across from Greyhound.