A driver for the Lawrence Transit System for three years, Richard Ferguson's top priority is helping passengers have a safe trip.
"These buses are checked out every single day - tires, brakes, everything," says Ferguson, 65, of Ottawa.
At 7:40 a.m., four passengers join Ferguson as he begins another circuit on his route, which starts near Ninth and Massachusetts streets and heads to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine, and the Lawrence Paper Co., 2801 Lakeview Road.
Trains crossing the bus route at North Iowa Street and West Lakeview Road along the city's northern edge sometimes delay his bus, Ferguson says, but not today.
In northwest Lawrence, lawyers John Emerson and Martin Miller board the bus on their way to work in separate offices downtown.
"This is the lawyer route," Emerson says. "(But) we do allow non-lawyers to ride."
The criteria for riders is fairly lenient, Miller says with a smile, and includes "any straight-thinking individual who wants to help the environment and save money on gas."
At 8:20 a.m., Ferguson eases the bus to a stop at Ninth and New Hampshire streets before heading through East Lawrence to Haskell Indian Nations University and a return trip downtown.
Ferguson worries about other drivers who might not be as careful as he is, and he understands the importance of the bus service.
"You meet people from all walks of life," he says. "From people who have a little bit of money to people who don't have any. You get to see a slice of life. It's a good route."