Three bus drivers from Stagecoach North East have proven to be the best in the region after receiving top scores in driving skills and achieving first, second and third in the regional Driver of the Year Awards.
With over 1600 employees, the local bus operator is celebrating its staff success as top trio Simon Broughton from Peterlee, James Lumsden from Walker in Newcastle and Bob Miller from Trimdon in County Durham are recognised for their exceptional driving.
Hartlepool-born Simon, 29, a bus driver and relief duty manager at Stagecoach North East’s Hartlepool depot, has won the Regional Bus Driver of the Year accolade, and was joined by colleagues James, 35, a bus driver at the Walkergate bus depot in Newcastle in second place, and 65-year old Bob Miller in third place, a bus driver at the Teesside depot in Stockton.
All three drivers had to complete a series of vigorous 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. The drivers had to achieve at least 85 percent score, and were given penalty points for any incorrect answers or marked down for wrong manoeuvres.
Each driver was also assessed on their individual record, with a high level score from the company’s Green Road driving programme, excellent attendance and no accidents.
A bus driver for only three years, Simon was delighted to win, and will now be going forward to represent Stagecoach North East at the national Bus Driver of the Year Awards in Blackpool in September. He said: “This is the first time that I have entered the competition and I am over the moon to have won the regional award. I enjoyed the challenge and pushing myself, and it is very satisfying to be put forward for the national competition. I am looking forward to the occasion and fingers crossed I bring back a second award!”
Competing with 120 bus drivers from across the UK at the national finals, Simon will be required to complete a second series of practical and theoretical driving tests to assess his driving technique and knowledge, acquiring as few penalty points as possible for a chance to win national Best Driver of the Year 2015.
James Lumsden, a bus driver for eight years, has completed his third driving challenge and has achieved second place for the second time. He said: “It is a rewarding experience and something that I have enjoyed doing, so I will probably continue to keep improving my score. I really enjoy my job and meeting different people as I drive around Newcastle, so to keep my driving skills up is all part of the job, but it feels good to try and be the best you can.”
A bus driver for 43 years, Bob has worked at Stagecoach for 12 years and this was also his first time entering the regional competition. He said: “On a general day to day basis, driving a bus can be challenging with the levels of traffic increasing, so taking the tests wasn’t all that different. I’m really pleased to have made the top three and even after 43 years driving, still enjoy the customer interaction every day.”
Matt Cranwell, Operations Director at Stagecoach North East presented prizes to the top drivers, with Simon winning a cash boost of £250 for first place, James receiving £200 for second place and Bob taking home a £50 prize for third place.
He said:”This is a fantastic achievement for Simon, James and Bob and we wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate our drivers in setting such high standards and getting outstanding results. It is great that our drivers want to push themselves and represent the company in such a well known and respected industry competition, and they should feel proud in what they have achieved. Even though it is a tough competition, we have high hopes for Simon and wish him all the best in the national finals.
“Alongside our initiatives such as Eco-Driver, Fleet Elite, Green Road 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.”
For further information about Stagecoach North East please visit www.stagecoachbus.com/northeast