Stagecoach North East worker Brian Usher finished second in the company’s regional Bus Driver of the Year Awards, with his colleague David Glasper from Sunderland coming out on top.
Brian had to complete a series of rigorous tests to challenge their driving skills, including a theory test on all aspects of the Highway Code, road safety and hazard awareness, and a comprehensive driving test assessed by Driving Standards Manager Joe Carr, who organised the competition.
Each driver was also assessed on their individual record, with a low Ecodriver score from the company’s green driving programme, excellent attendance and accident-free record until the day of the competition.
David went on to represent Stagecoach North East as a finalist at the national Bus Driver of the Year Awards in Blackpool, finishing 23rd.
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In total 100 bus and coach drivers took part in the 51st UK competition, which this year saw horrendous weather for the participants, making the course even tougher.
Drivers are given a bus that they are unfamiliar with and are only given a few minutes to prepare and get used to the way they run.
Competitors are also expected to drive a course around the streets of Blackpool and during this, customers can get on board as it is classed as a regular bus service.
Brian, a bus driver for 31 years who works at Stagecoach’s South Shields depot, said: “I have often thought about taking part but haven’t until now, so I’m really pleased for my first attempt.
“It has been a great confidence boost, as I take pride in my job and want to be good at it.
“Challenges like this all add to the role of a bus driver, which I really enjoy as love meeting new people, helping them to get to where they need to be and being part of their daily life.”
Colin Newbury, operations director at Stagecoach North East, presented prizes to the top drivers, with David winning a cash boost of £250 for first place and Brian receiving £150 for second place.
Colin said: “This is a fantastic achievement for David and Brian and we wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate our drivers and their outstanding results.
“Alongside our initiatives such as Ecodriver, Fleet Elite and Rosco Safe Driving Awards, the bus driver awards are another example of our drivers taking training to the next level and providing excellent customer service along the way.”