Best of the best


A Hawaiian honeymoon is on the agenda as Paul Taylor is declared the nation's best young bus driver

Best of the best
Best of the best

By David Goeldner | November 23, 2012

The best of the best competed at Flemington racecourse in Melbourne recently, not on the turf, but on the adjacent tarmac behind the steering wheels of buses to find the winner of Scania’s inaugural ‘Young Bus Driver of the Year’ (YABD).

Contestants from four states went toe to toe, with the final 12 selected from 200 entries to compete in three groups of four covering a bus manoeuvring exercise, an on-road drive around inner western Melbourne, and capped with a written test on theory and a stand-up mock interview with a journalist to assess how young drivers handle the media.

It was a busy day for the final dozen which took six hours of arduous competition to find a winner who took home $10,000 and the title of Australia’s best young bus driver.

That honour went to Ventura Bus Lines’ Paul Taylor (pictured), who, like many contestants is a second generation bus driver, and also like many has ambition to carve a career in the bus industry.

Taylor’s fiancé Karmann Watson was in the audience when Scania’s chief bus wrangler and competition organiser Ron Szulc declared first, second and third places.

Watson had been concerned about how the young couple would pay for their dream holiday to Hawaii in 2013 for their honeymoon, but Taylor’s bus driving skill resolved that problem picking up the handy and hefty winner’s cheque.

Taylor says it was the biggest overtime cheque he has ever received.

In winning the award, Taylor was up against worthy opponents from Queensland, NSW, South Australia and his home state Victoria.

While Paul Taylor collected $10,000, runner-up Mee’s Bus Lines’ Alden Brown secured a fully-funded trip for two to the opening round of the 2013 season of the V8 Supercars Championship in Adelaide, with NSW Hillsbus Dural depot driver Ryan Williams earning a BP $500 fuel voucher for third place.

But no-one walked away empty handed, as the nine who missed out on a major place each received a wristwatch as a memento from the competition.

Before the winners were announced, Scania communications manager and emcee Ron Szulc summed the day as long, requiring a bit more time to separate the place getters.

"There were 22,000 points on offer and when the final scores went in 700 points separated first and seventh, and 200 points between first and third – it was that tight," Szulc says.

Szulc congratulated all contestants on demonstrating a high standard.

"You are all excellent ambassadors for your profession," he says.

Scania Australia Managing Director Roger McCarthy was present on the day throughout the competition, such was the importance placed on the exercise.

McCarthy thanked event sponsor Castrol and Continental tyres, and also praised the Scania team for putting it all together.

"Everybody enjoyed the event, that’s for sure, and I see there was a lot of competitive spirit, concentration and excellent driving," he says.

"These young bus drivers across the country are dedicated to their profession."

And for a first-time event, McCarthy was well-pleased with the outcome.

"It demonstrates drivers of buses, and on the truck side where we have been running the competition for a number of years, are important players and they are professionals," he says.

The inaugural YABD event will be backed-up with a second iteration in two years from now, according to McCarthy.

"I am sure we will continue with it," he says.

"And I think the message is out that if you don’t come within the top three on the day, you come back and keep trying."



COMING UP:

The full length feature version of Scania’s Young Australian Bus Driver of the Year event appears inside December’s issue of Australasian Bus and Coach, on sale December 11, 2012.







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