On the Buses: Meet one of Scotland's youngest bus drivers

Learn about a day in the life of one of Scotland's youngest bus drivers, Rhys Holland

Advertorial by The Skinny | 06 Mar 2023
  • First Bus Rhys
First Bus
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We've all been there. Hop on the bus on the way to uni or into town, head to the upper deck, notice the front seats are empty, then spend your journey imagining that you are, in fact, driving the bus. Well, what if we told you that you could take that one step further...

Rhys Holland is one of Scotland's youngest bus drivers, and the 19-year-old has been behind the wheel of First Bus services in Glasgow for nearly two years. Now working as a Leading Driver, we caught up with Rhys to find out how he got started, and to find out a bit more about a day in the life of your friendly local bus driver...

The Skinny: How did you get started as a bus driver?

Rhys Holland: Well, funnily enough, my Papa worked for a bus company for almost 35 years, he was a depot manager. So, perhaps I took inspiration from him... The job appealed to me during the pandemic when I was working in retail and the industry took a hit. I wanted a new challenge, and just after I’d turned 18 years old, I spotted a recruitment advert for First Bus advertising the role of a Trainee Bus Driver, and I thought "why not, this could be interesting".

Describe a typical day on the job?

So much of what I do is about interacting with the public, so as you can imagine no two days are the same! What my job does guarantee is endless banter from my customer, great Scottish scenery as I drive around on my routes, and also a few surprises thrown in here and there, for example, dealing with weather challenges.

In terms of my typical day, I head to the depot sometimes as early as 4am and from there, I'll be designated my bus and route for the first half of my shift. I really love driving, so I’m always quite excited to get behind the wheel. One of the most common vehicles I drive is an Enviro 400 EV (double decker electric vehicle), so it’s pretty cool and enjoyable to drive. Given that a new double decker is worth around £300,000, it’s amazing to get to drive something of that value around the city every day.

As a Leading Driver, I’ll also spend time in the depot office, where I will mainly be responsible for managing breakdowns, assisting drivers with their shifts, as well as ensuring we are delivering a reliable and punctual bus service to our customers.

What do your friends make of your job?

I will never forget the first time I told my pals, nobody could believe it. I think everyone thought you need to be old, grey and grumpy to drive a bus, which is obviously not the case. Actually more young people than ever before are choosing a career as a bus driver.

Granted, traditionally bus drivers were older, but there’s definitely a new wave of younger drivers coming through the ranks – certainly here at First Bus – who recognise the benefits of a good salary and doing something that is not only challenging, but also offers amazing career progression.

First Bus driver Rhys Holland

What’s your favourite part of being a bus driver?

I’ve always loved the physical act of driving, so that’s a big win for me in this role, and obviously, a vital part of it. As well as that, I would say the people. Meeting and talking to people every day – interacting with regulars, or tourists, it’s just really fulfilling. I might also be someone's only conversation that day, which I don’t take lightly.

How did you find the training?

I loved the training process and, genuinely would love to do it all over again. It can take up to 12 weeks depending on experience, but my training took place over three weeks in the early summer, and I remember at one point driving over the Erskine Bridge while the sun was setting – the scenery was stunning, and I suddenly thought “I can’t believe I get to do this for a living”. It was pretty cool.

At first though, as you’d expect, I found driving the bus quite overwhelming – I mean, these are big, top of the range, expensive vehicles. So, going from your two-door car to a bus that’s four times the length of the average car, is quite an experience. However, the instructor was brilliant and by the end of the three week programme I passed my test with flying colours.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career as a bus driver?

I would say just go for it! It’s a great career option that allows you to be part of your community, interact with different, diverse people every day – and with the added bonus of never being tied to a desk.

Remember, if you are aged under-22 and living in Scotland, then free travel is within grasp. Make sure to apply for your NEC card to take advantage, leaving you #FreeToExplore at GetYourNec.scot

Older than 22? Don’t panic! Bus remains a sustainable way to travel that won’t break the bank. Hop on board and do your bit for the planet next time you head out.