Though the bright red buses attract people’s attention, the four men who drive Oxford’s double-decker buses make the experience of touring the Square what it is. These drivers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, are all specially trained for the controls of these older buses. And most importantly, they all love what they do.
A long-time double-decker bus driver, Davis Long said some of his favorite memories behind the wheel are of driving groups of children on school field trips.
“(They) are screaming and hollering the whole time.”
Davis remembers how he came to double-decker driving as a happy accident.
“I was driving an OUT bus, and they asked if anybody wanted to drive a double-decker bus, and I said, ‘Why not? I love driving.”
This surprise opportunity was the start of his weekend career driving an entirely different sort of Oxford bus route. He said he enjoys meeting people on the bus just as much as he enjoys being able to drive the historic buses.
“I was trained for 6 hours, and they let me loose!”
Shawn Williams began his career nearly five years ago and said he’s always enjoyed driving for the city.
“Driving around, taking people sightseeing, and people and hearing Jack (Mayfield)’s stories over and over again… When people get on the bus, they get so amazed, and this is something you can’t see everywhere – only in London and right here in Oxford, Mississippi.”
As a longtime driver, Shawn has seen the festival year after year. He describes it as a “wild and crazy” time.
“Double Decker is just what it is – Double Decker weekend. People are everywhere. Everybody wants to ride the (buses) with the top off. When you come up over the hill, come beside City Hall and (you can) see all the crowds of people waiting.”
This year, Shawn will once again spend Double Decker weekend driving passengers around in the two-story busses.
Paul Austin started driving double-decker buses after seeing an advertisement in his morning newspaper. He used to work for a school and said he found the driving job a way to keep himself from becoming bored over long summer breaks.
Built in 1962, the buses have a long history in Oxford. Paul said he enjoys when people ask to step inside the bus and take pictures of the controls, which are old and on the right-hand side of the bus, unlike in American buses.
“(The bus is) unique; it’s just different. I just love how everyone is always happy. Before I drove this, I drove a school bus, and this was a nice change. Everyone is just always happy to get on the bus.”
Rickey Rain is a newer bus driver, but in his short time operating the double-decker buses, he’s fallen in love with driving them on the Square.
“I love the people, helping others out. I just love driving the bus.”
His favorite memory of driving a double-decker bus is of a group of senior citizens who rode along for a tour cracking jokes the whole time.
This year is Rickey’s first Double Decker, and he is looking forward to everything that comes with it.
“(It’s) all the fun, all the activities, meeting new people from out of town and giving them a great experience in Oxford.”