A South Shields bus driver has been named the best in the region after winning the top spot in this year’s driving awards.
Brian Usher, of South Shields, has won the Regional Bus Driver of the Year accolade for the first time after coming in second place last year.
The 55-year-old completed a series of vigorous tests to challenge his 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.
Brian, who has been a driver for 32 years, was delighted to beat his placing from last year.
He said: “I’m very happy to win this award and it’s a real recognition of the hard work and skills that go into driving a bus every day.
“Although I had thought briefly about taking part in the award scheme in the past, I didn’t really take much interest until last year, when I came second.
“Obviously I wanted to try and improve my place and come first and so I am over the moon.”
Brian, who works for Stagecoach North East, had to achieve at least 85% score, and was given penalty points for any incorrect answers or marked down for wrong manoeuvres.
He was also assessed on his individual record, with a low Ecodriver score from the company’s green driving programme, excellent attendance and an accident-free record until the day of the competition.
Brian’s top marks enabled him to represent Stagecoach North East as a finalist at the national Bus Driver of the Year Awards which took place in Blackpool.
Brian was placed in the top 10 for all Stagecoach drivers across the country, coming 53rd out of the 91 competitors.
He added: “For the first time I have ever taken part in a driving challenge at a national level, I’m really pleased with the result.
“Meeting drivers from all over the country and at different levels of skills and knowledge was a great experience for me and I will be able to take the learning forward and possibly have another go next year.
“It all adds to the role as bus driver. I really enjoy driving the bus, meeting a wide variety of people and particularly the challenge of keeping to a timetable and getting people to their destinations on time.”
Featuring both single and double decker buses, exams included length tests to position the bus within a certain area and fast response theory tests.
Colin Newbury, operations director, Stagecoach North East, said: “These fantastic results are a testament to the skills of our drivers and the training they have received and further demonstrate that Stagecoach produces professional and skilful drivers across the country, so many congratulations to Brian.”
Colin presented Brian with a prize of £250 for first place.