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BusNSW recognises leading drivers at end of year function

BusNSW has given four NSW drivers reward for their excellence behind the wheel

BusNSW has recognised the best bus drivers in the state at its end of year function earlier this week. These prestigious awards are sponsored by Industry SuperFund, Spirit Super.

BusNSW executive director Matt Threlkeld says the Bus Driver of the Year awards were established in 2006 to recognise individuals for their outstanding contribution to the NSW bus and coach industry.

“Being the vital link between operators and their customers, the industry relies significantly on its drivers to deliver the level of customer service expected and depended upon by the traveling public,” Threlkeld told ABC.

“Bus drivers provide an essential service to the community, with a broad cross-section of people relying on buses to get them to and from school, work, higher education, health appointments and social engagements.

“Recipients of these accolades have demonstrated a consistent record as exceptional drivers, significantly impacting the lives of their passengers and earning high regard within their respective organisations.”

The awards are divided into four categories to recognise drivers in Greater Sydney, Outer-Metropolitan areas, Regional NSW and in the Coach and Charter sector.

“To be eligible for each award, nominees need to fulfil certain criteria, which includes exhibiting a positive and cooperative attitude towards their job, assisting passengers and other staff members, and having a high standard of personal presentation,” Threlkeld says.

L to R: Matt Threlkeld, John King, Richard Ettia, Jenny Aitchison and Howard Collins. Image Supplied: BusNSW

“In addition to greeting passengers in a polite and friendly manner, we also look for drivers who have a safe driving record and are courteous to other drivers on the road.”

The NSW Bus Driver of the Year awards were presented by NSW regional transport and roads minister Jenny Aitchison, Transport for NSW coordinator-general Howard Collins and BusNSW president John King.

“While the four Drivers of the Year vary in age and background, all share a great empathy and care for their passengers, and a commitment to outstanding service,” King says.

In the Greater Sydney Bus Driver of the Year award, Helen Richards from CDC NSW took home the gong.

Busways’ Stephen O’Brien won the Outer Metropolitan Bus Driver of the Year award, with Busways managing director Byron Rowe accepting the award on O’Brien’s behalf.

CDC NSW’s Helen Richards with her award. Image Supplied: BusNSW

“Stephen has been a bus driver with Busways for 19 years and has an excellent safety and on time running record and always looks out for his customers,” Rowe says.

“Earlier this year, Stephen was awarded the Busways Customer Experience award for his caring and sensible help for a young passenger with an invisible disability who was riding on his bus and became lost.

“Stephen’s smooth driving, and calm and collected demeanour, combined with his ability to think quickly on his feet, problem solve and manage people through difficult situations have earned him many customer compliments.

“We extend our sincere gratitude to Stephen for his tireless efforts, and we take great pride in having him as an invaluable member of the Busways team.”

Byron Rowe (middle) accepted the award on behalf of Stephen O’Brien. Image Supplied: BusNSW

In the Rural and Regional Bus Driver of the Year category, Robert Knight from Ballina Buslines won the award.

In the final award, Richard Ettia from Kinetic took home Coach and Charter Driver of the Year.

“I’ve always loved driving and have five children who I’ve always transported around. Now I’m just doing that on a larger scale,” Ettia says.

“Driving is quite enjoyable if you make it that way.

“I’m so grateful to be recognised in a room full of operators and drivers who’ve been in the game for a long time. It’s pretty special.”

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