A Tram Driver in Lviv: An Inner Side of the Job

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A Tram Driver in Lviv: An Inner Side of the Job
Maryna Romantsova

Prof survey is a series of reports about an inner side of jobs. The inner “kitchen” and everything that is concealed from us in daily life are covered here.

A Tram Driver

Oksana Zhabych got behind the wheel at the age of 18. Today she will show us behind the scenes of her job. “Different things were happening during my work, once I saw a naked woman going along the city street”.

Video in 360°

It is cool and noisy inside the street car, like in Boeing. The chairs of “Electron” are new, soft and clean for now. Behind the windows there is urban scenery of Sykhiv. It is a terminal stop, people are leaving the passenger compartment leaving quietness, space and smell of spring air. Turning backwards. And around there are fields and vegetable plots, as if we are going far outside the city, in a completely other dimension. And this is only for some minutes until the track turns.

Пустий трамвай

It is cozy in the driver’s cab. The electronic control panels are shining under the accidental sun. On the left there are some money, a note-pad and a pen in a handy position. Driver’s coat and bag are next to the wall. In some minutes you are beginning to sweat in the jacket. Mrs. Oksana is smiling and inviting you to come closer, to look. Before the next drive we have only five minutes.

Пані Оксана в трамваї

How to Drive a Tram? 

There is little space for two persons inside. It is no wonder, as per regulations, on the move a tram driver must be in the driver’s cab alone. It is not difficult to drive “Electron”, but after old trams we had to learn again. The control is manual with the help of a computer panel.

“When the first “Electrons” came, we were given two assignments to the job training. Afterwards, trained drivers had to teach others. However, everybody got used to the old tram so much, that nobody wanted to learn driving a new one!”, Mrs. Oksana is laughing.

After a while, volunteers have appeared, ambitious younger drivers who worked for two years. “I looked at them, and I think, why I cannot try?”

When Sykhiv route was opened the first time, heads of LCC were taken to the tram. Sadovyi, some heads from the City Council were in it then. And Mrs. Oksana was the first to take common passengers.

“I have recently got behind the wheel of “Electron”. Fortunately, that day a chief of the route was sitting next to me. She was helping to operate and sell tickets. There were a lot of people, but we both coped with everything. Now it is different, experience and practice give a good result.

Оксана Жабич за кермом трамваю

How Is “Electron” Different from Its Predecessor?

“To drive “Electron” is totally different. There, you have a pedal, and here it is manual. It is more difficult to sell tickets. You have to drive, and people with money knock at your door. Only when you drive by rolling, your hands are free and you can sell. People get irritated that it is long, but it is impossible to do it quicker, as it is a big responsibility.

“Electron” is wider. You got used to one size, and now you get to drive another one. You must be attentive and figure out everything properly.

A new tram is operated by electronics. If something breaks down in an old model, you have to wait until KRaZ comes and tows you to be repaired. But concerning “Electron”, you do not know all details in it yet. A small square on the panel goes off and you must call a repairman to consult.

However, I like one difference very much. In “Electron”, when there are a lot of people, and if somebody’s leg, arm, head or bag is in the door, it will not close. And the tram will not go until all doors are closed”, the driver is sharing her experience with pleasure.

Панель керування "Електрону"

How Do Drivers Work?

“The work is in shifts. A work-assignment dispatcher, having all surnames in the database, makes up a schedule every day, taking into account drivers’ wishes. Every month a driver must work for a certain number of hours, not less and not more. Every driver works 4 days, the fifth one is a day off.

Every day drivers call the dispatcher to ask which shift they must go in. The bus takes drivers to work. If you go in the first shift, you must get up early, because the bus is at 4:50.

Before work there is always a procedure of receiving a tram. A driver must check if everything is good with a tram. There is motivation to come earlier, and then you will have more time for checking.

At the end of a shift you must fill in a way bill and give back money with unsold tickets.”


 Danger in the Job

“Once, an unpleasant situation has happened. I was going by route number 2, in Stepan Bandera Street. Then I was driving an old tram. On the left turn, one car overtook me and stopped to give way to a pedestrian. And I continue going, the tram is 20 tonnes, I did not have time to stop… I crashed into the car.

Luckily, nobody got hurt. And I was shaking, my hands were trembling… I felt stressed a lot”, Mrs. Oksana sighed. “Then I was summoned to the court, because the driver did not want to admit her guilt. Fortunately, there was a camera which had fixed everything.

There was also a moment when I got into an accident with a man. Going up, I got up speed, and there he came up. And he stopped right in front of the tram! I braked immediately, but anyway, I scratched his wing.

After that he was posting in Facebook, asking the witnesses to give video… But in the comments people explained him that he was wrong, because he came up against the rules. That time there was no trial.”

Куток споживача в трамваї

Curious Incidents

“There is one man who likes to complain. He gets on, tapping his stick on the floor, chooses a comfortable seat and observes how you drive. But this is a road, not always you can stick to the timetable. Somewhere you must stop because of a traffic jam, sometimes you stay longer at the stop until some old lady with a stick comes to the tram. It is not good to close the door in front of her…

And this man with a stick looks, and if he does not like something, having got off, he taps on the window and threats “You have gone over the speed limit, I will call to your office, and tomorrow you will not work here!” But everybody in our office has already known him, so they do not pay much attention to such complaints.

And another time, I was going to the first shift, it was 5 o’clock in the morning. I was passing by the City Council as I saw a naked woman! The photographer was spinning around her, while she was posing in her birthday suit. And I was thinking, either she had such a job or she was without any complexes… But why not to do it at night, not in the morning when there are people around you!

Later, I saw her photo in the magazine, I felt ashamed to look at it”, the woman smiled confusedly.

Choice of the Job

Oksana dreamed to be a teacher. She did not enter the Pedagogical Institute, so she went to study to Stryi Vocational Training School not to waste a year. Having finished studying, they were sending her to get a higher education in Mohylev-Podilskyi, but her father did not let her go, “This is so far, my daughter, I do not want you to go.”

Her cousin offered work to Oksana. “I thought that I would drive a tram, it must be interesting! So, I have been already working for 25 years, since 18.

I was thinking a lot, what else I would do instead of this. I like singing, telling jokes. But to imagine any other job for myself, I cannot”, the woman is sharing.

Пані Оксана - водій трамвая

“Everything occurs in my work. It happens that some person comes with a bad mood, swears at you, and later he will forget, but I drive and think about it all day. Perhaps, I did something wrong…

And sometimes a passenger gets on, gives money for a ticket, but he does not say how many tickets he needs. I ask him, “What do you need?” But he says rudely, “Do you not see that I have got on alone?”

But anyway, I love my work. And I love people, because I cannot help but love. Whenever somebody says thank you or just smiles, I feel good. Because I do my best for them and I know that I do good”.

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