Glendive school bus driver of 41 years still enjoys her work

Thursday, February 28, 2019
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Jon Decker photo and video interview

Edna Boyce has been a bus driver for Glendive Schools for 41 years.



It’s 2 p.m. at the Glendive School District bus barn when bus driver Edna Boyce flips the ignition with a sprightly hand. Her small bright yellow school bus groans to life as she precisely backs it out between two of its larger standard sized cousins in the dark garage and into the blinding winter white.

A familiar face for many who have ridden local school buses throughout the years, Boyce is wrapped in a bulky red sports jacket with white letters emblazoned across her back. They spell out “Glendive School Bus Driver 20 Years+”

This is an understatement. Boyce is now in her 41st year of bus driving, and she’s far from done.

It was in April of 1978 when Boyce decided she wanted a change of pace. She had been working at the Glendive Bakery and noticed a few women around town had started driving buses for the local school district.

“There were two or three other women driving and I thought why not give it a try?” Boyce said. She marched into the supervisor’s office for an interview. When he asked if she had any experience, Boyce said she had driven sugar beet trucks.

Boyce recalled that he told her “You won’t have any trouble driving buses.” Forty-one years later, Boyce is still driving.

Increased pay prompted her move into the world of transportation.

“I was getting a whopping $1.60 (an hour) at the bakery,” Boyce explained. “When I started at the school, I got $3 an hour. It was part time.”

But the pay wasn’t the only benefit.

Boyce explained that she really enjoys her work, as well as the extra perks that come with working for the school district.

“It’s good for me,” Boyce said. “I had kids in school, so I had summers off. When they had holidays, I had holidays. It came in handy for a little extra cash for getting things and raising children you know? I just enjoy it, period.”

There haven’t been a lot of changes in the job throughout the years, according to Boyce. Among the few changes she’s witnessed was in vehicles.

“(The buses) were all manual. Then we changed to automatic,” Boyce explained. There was also a shift from gasoline to diesel.

Other than that, not much has changed for Boyce. She still picks up the kids, and drops them off as she has done for the past four decades. In the beginning of her career, Boyce ferried Glendive’s kindergarten crop to and from school.

Less than a year after she started driving, another opportunity opened up for her.

“That fall they got a special needs bus and they asked the other drivers if they wanted to drive for special needs,” Boyce said. “And no one wanted to do it. So I said I’d give it a try and I’m still driving.”

For a while, Boyce drove both kindergarten and special needs students, but eventually transitioned to only special needs students.

“It keeps me busy. I sure enjoy it,” Boyce said, stating that she wasn’t entirely on her own.

An aide for the students accompanies Boyce on her route, assisting with buckling the students in and making sure things stay orderly on the bus.

Although Boyce is at an age where many choose to retire, she has no plans to stop in the near future.

“As long as I can pass my (Department of Transportation) physical, I’ll keep driving,” Boyce said. “I’m supposed to be retired. But I wanted to supplement my income. I enjoy the people I work with. We have a very good supervisor. It’s good to get out and work. And they need drivers, so I’m there!”

In addition to sharing her story, Boyce wanted to send a message out to Glendive drivers who share the road with school buses.

“I hope more people would pay attention when we have our stop signs out,” Boyce said. “You never know (where a kid will be crossing). So I hope the other people will stop and think about that.”

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