Day in the Life: Bus Driver
My morning routine varies depending on which shift I’m on. If I’m on the early shift I get up just after 3am and I’m at the Macduff depot for 4.10am. My first 15 minutes is spent checking the bus – inside and out – to make sure it’s roadworthy and generally clean and tidy.
I leave at 4.30am for Aberdeen then more or less just turn right round, departing Aberdeen at 6.35am and arriving in Macduff just after 8.30am. I’ve got a break until 10am and as I live close to the depot I go home for a while. When I’m on the early shift I finish at 2pm which leaves my afternoon and evening clear.
Lunchtime depends on what time I start and which part of the route I’m driving.
Service 35 is an inter-urban route which links more than a dozen towns and villages between Aberdeen and Elgin and complements the more direct service route. It’s not only my shift times that vary; I drive different parts of the route on different days. No two days are the same and that’s what I like most about this job – that and the people you meet. I’ve been a driver with Stagecoach for 36 years, most of them on this route, so you really get to know a lot of the regulars and their routines.
There have been a lot of changes over the years. Traffic is horrendous now compared to when I started – they were talking about the bypass then and we still don’t have it. Peak time travelling adds almost an extra hour to the journey.
Service 35 is used by a lot of tourists – we offer a hop on-hop off ticket which means visitors can visit a number of places along the route. For example we get a lot of Norwegians and Germans travelling from Aberdeen to the distillery at Oldmeldrum; others visit places like Fyvie Castle while some visitors are hoping to catch sight of the seals which you often see from the bus near Buckie and Portgordon. There’s such a lot to see on this route that if I know someone is not from the area, I try to point out what they might see along the way.
When I’ve finished working the early shift I try to make the most of my afternoons – I have eight grandchildren so I spend time with some of them or I might go for a walk or go shopping with my wife.
If I’m on the late shift I start at 3.30pm and am finished by the back of midnight. Last thing at night you check the bus – similar to what you do first thing in the morning – looking for any damage and also checking for lost property – gloves, mobile phones and purses are the most common things people leave behind.
I’m a supporter of our local Highland League football team Deveronvale and if I’m not working I try to get along to as many of their games as I can.
I don’t mind working in the evening because it gives me flexibility during the day. I’ve been a driver all my life. I drove a Chieftain tank for seven years in the army before doing this. This is a great job for anyone who likes driving and there more to it and a lot more skill involved than I think people realise and there is good job security.
I compete regularly in the national Driver of the Year awards which is open to bus drivers from companies across the UK. I’ve won the local heat eight times and in 2004 was UK overall runner up and the Stagecoach’s top driver in the UK; in 2009 I had the highest aggregate score two of the elements.
In 2013 I came in fifth overall, was Stagecoach’s UK runner up and top driver in Scotland. The competition really tests your driving. In one task for example you have to stop with the side of your vehicle no less than two inches – and no more than four inches – from the side of the kerb.
Driving a bus is all about precision and forward planning, not just driving from A to B.