There are many iconic things about London, but one image that always stands out is the big red London bus. 🚌
From tourists exploring the sites to long time Londoners on the night bus, they truly are a London institution. But how much do you know about the people behind the wheel and working at our bus stations that help take us on 176.8 million bus journeys every month?
About our bus driver stories campaign
Bus drivers are doing a huge job! They keep London moving, getting everyone to where they need to go, including getting healthcare workers and other frontline workers to/from work 24/7. But we hear from our drivers and station controllers that they can sometimes feel unappreciated and invisible.
We want to encourage more appreciation of our bus staff and greater engagement between passengers and drivers on London buses. So, we partnered with Neighbourly Lab a non-profit research organisation whose mission is to increase social connectedness across the UK. 🤝
We began by measuring current levels of interactions aboard London buses and discovered that currently only about 2 in 10 passengers greet their driver when entering the bus, and less than 1 in 10 passengers thank their driver when leaving the bus. This means that many of us are missing out on a small but powerful piece of human interaction in our day to day lives, and we think that’s a shame.
So we are launching a campaign to share the powerful stories of the people working across our bus network, spotlighting their lives both on and off the bus to demonstrate our appreciation for drivers and encourage further engagement from passengers.
We heard from 40 drivers and station controllers, but here are the stories of 7 of our amazing bus staff! 👇🏾
You know me as a bus driver. Friends know me for my jollof rice
Eddie is a bus driver, but he is most known amongst his family and friends as a chef.
His earliest memories are of being in his mother’s kitchen preparing food for the whole family. So, he is pretty confident in his food, and you’ll often find him cooking for 200-300 people. For him food is his way of showing love and making people feel appreciated whether it’s family or his co-workers at the Garage.
His signature dish is Jollof Rice, a traditional African dish that he grew up making. Whenever they have something going on at the garage, he brings it along and they’re always asking for more. 🧑🏿🍳
In work time, I’m driving. In my time, we’re baking
Shana has been a driver for 18 years. When she joined there weren’t many female drivers, but she enjoyed showing people, especially the men, what she could really do. 💪
Shana is a bubbly and sociable person, so her favourite part of the job has always been the conversations with the regulars. If everyone said “thank you” on her bus you’d see her with a permanent grin on her face.
Outside of work, her life is all about spending time with family and friends. She has three daughters and 4 grandchildren, and they spend a lot of time baking and then eating their homemade treats. She’s such a proud Grandma (or a Mummykin as they call her) and her dream for them is that they’ll become strong, independent young people who get to do the things that they believe in. 💓
Jorge and Cecibel
For us, every day is ‘bring your family to work day’
For Jorge and Cecibel, bus driving runs in the family. They are a mother and son duo who both share a passion for getting people around London. 🚌
They came to London from Ecuador about 27 years ago and at times the transition was difficult, but they love it here, especially because they get to share parts of home like traditional food, music and culture with new friends and neighbours.
They’re on the same route and work out of the same depot, and they aren’t the only one’s working with family. There’s actually lots of other drivers working with their wives, husbands, and father and sons, so it really is a family business.
My bus takes you on adventures. Books take me on mine.
Azad moved to London in 1996 from Iraq, in the past he has been a soldier and a draughtsman, but his passion has always been reading and writing. He spent most of his childhood reading, which soon turned to writing and even translating books into other languages.
Today it’s still his passion, when he’s on holiday or having a day off you’ll always find him with a book in his hand. 📚
And he’s sharing this love through the generations, from his children to his grandchildren, who all love to hear the stories his mum used to tell him and, of course, about his days on the bus.
Raising the roof on this double decker bus
Nick is a bus driver by day and an international DJ by night. He creates his own music and has performed at some iconic London clubs like Fabric and Ministry of Sound. 🎵
He still remembers his first time getting on stage and seeing the crowd waiting, feeling like he was either going to have a heart attack or cry with happiness. Now he wants to help other people to experience that. So he’s starting a project to help youngsters get off the streets and teach them instead to make music free of charge, so that they get to experience the joy that music brings him.
After directing buses all day, you’ll find me dancing the night away
Ed is a bus station controller, he grew up in Johannesburg, but he’s made London his second home. 🏠
For him the magic of London is its diversity. You can go North, East, South or West and experience something new, different and vibrant. London is a place where people don’t care if you’re black, white, gay, straight, transitioning, we’re all experiencing London in whatever way we want to.
When he used to live in Manchester people would say “ah London’s not that friendly, you’re going to get lonely” but for him it’s been the opposite. London has welcomed him and he loves that he gets to help other people get out and about, exploring everything London has to offer.
Get to know your local bus driver
These people are all working to keep London’s buses moving, but they each have their own unique stories. There are so many other drivers and controllers helping us to get all over London everyday, and they too have their own passions, challenges and experiences just like every Londoner.
So, when you’re next on the bus, think about the difference that saying “hi”, giving them a smile or saying “thanks” might make, because one small interaction can mean more than you know.
Do you have any nice memories of your local bus driver? Tell us in the comments!
🗓️ To see these stories be brought to life even more, visit our display at Hammersmith Bus Station throughout April until 5 May.
Please come down to join in the celebration!