John Artuso: the man the myth, the bus driver

By Frank Cucca

John was born on August 17, 1959 at St Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. His parents immigrated to Canada with his father landing first in 1955 and then bringing his wife over after they were married in 1958 in Italy. They are from the Treviso and Vicenza Provinces, up in the Northern part of Italy and still living in their own home at the ages of 91 and 90.
John attended Hastings Elementary School and then Templeton High School, graduating in 1977. He attended Our Lady of Sorrows Church where he was an Altar boy there for a few years. He has been married to Tina now for close to thirty years with two kids … Sammy 27 and Thomas 25 and he acknowledges yes, they are still living at home.
John became a bus driver in January of 1989, before applying he was with David L Jones Wholesale as a delivery driver. A friend of his who had also worked at Jones kept bugging him to apply with BC Transit so one day he decided to apply and within a day of applying he had his interview and was asked to start training right away. This was a couple of weeks before Christmas of 1989. He was very respectful and wanted to give Jones Wholesale the traditional two-week notice, which Transit allowed him to do. He then started training in the middle of January 1989.
He’s been with them ever since, well into 29 years of service.
He tells me that there are a lot of good things about the job, the pay and benefit package, vacation and holidays, the flexibility of start and finish times, weekend work, compressed shifts (4 on – 3 off) etc.
Shift selection and holiday picks are all seniority based, so you always know where you stand in the ranks and it’s a fair as possible for all. The bad … traffic, traffic, traffic and sometimes unruly passengers, lots of whacko’s out there and most get on the buses to get around.
You need thick skin to do this job for an extended period! If you don’t handle stress well, this job may not be for you, we have schedules that are at times unrealistic especially if your bus runs late. Attracting the ire of a few irrational passengers … How you deal with that kind of stress is important as you can imagine.
John Artuso, the man, the myth enjoys his job I’m my own boss and I love being outside over sitting in a office all day, I am out and about and everyday is a little different. I enjoy dealing with people and tourists are by far the best passengers, they appreciate the system we have and are amazed on how it all meshes together, we rarely appreciate what we have here do we.
John feels that if given the same circumstances he would not hesitate a moment and do it all again. I think going into the road supervisor division early on, would be the one thing I would have done differently, there is no substitute for being the Sheppard rather than the sheep!
He has been doing the 95 (the old 135) SFU /Burrard Station Bus for years and years and has a regular clientele that he sees often on his route and he often chats about the events of the day or whatever comes to mind. John tells me that he gets along with most everyone on his bus, now what they say behind my back, I’m not privy too!
Over the years, John has also become a great news source, giving all his followers on Facebook a heads up on his route traffic and road weather conditions. This past winter was extremely challenging as the snow really made it difficult to drive up Hastings and the SFU hill.
If you get a chance to hop on John’s bus, let him know that He is the Man.

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