Roger Pudwell joined Oxford Bus Company on September 15, 1980, when Diana Ross was topping the charts and the average family home set a buyer back £23,000.
A carpenter by trade, Mr Pudwell only planned to be on the buses for 12 months at most. But 42 years after serving his first customers, and an estimated 20,000 journeys later, the 65-year-old has decided to hang up his keys.
Mr Pudwell, of Blackbird Leys, Oxford, has witnessed plenty of change in the industry during his career but said the key qualities of a being a good bus driver will always remain the same.
“We’re there to greet passengers with a smile, transport them to where they want to go and wish them a lovely day,” said the married father-of-two. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and would not change a thing.
“For 35 years, I’ve been driving The Airline service linking Oxford to Heathrow and Gatwick. I would challenge anyone claiming to have better knowledge of the southern stretch of the M40 and western side of the M25 than myself.
“There are always challenges and obstacles to overcome but being friendly and going that extra mile to give passengers the service they have paid for is the secret to a successful career.”
Mr Pudwell’s loyalty was recently recognised in a special presentation by Oxford Bus Company at its annual Really Amazing Awards ceremony where he was rewarded for 40 years’ service.
He plans to spend retirement caring for his father and adding to his mileage clock with wife Tracey while spending time with his three granddaughters.
“I have a to-do list at home dating back more than four decades before I can think of putting my feet up,” he laughed.
“I’ve spent most of my career starting people’s holidays on the journey to the airport, so I think it’s time to enjoy a few trips myself.”
After spending more than four decades behind the wheel, Mr Pudwell would recommend becoming a bus driver to anyone looking to fit their lifestyle around flexible shift patterns.
“It’s far better than working eights hours a day, five days a week,” he said. “Bus driving is flexible and there is a real need for drivers right now so rates of pay and bonus schemes are very good.
“Most importantly, you get to meet lots of lovely people and balance life with a rewarding career.”
Luke Marion, Oxford Bus Company Interim Managing Director, said: “Roger has covered an extraordinary number of miles during his time here and we thank him for his fantastic service to our passengers and the company.
“His loyalty, customer service and attention to detail are all qualities that mean so many passengers enjoy travelling with Oxford Bus Company and we’re very grateful to Roger and all drivers for making such a difference.
“I’m sure all my colleagues will join me wishing Roger a well-deserved long and happy retirement.”
Oxford Bus Company is currently recruiting drivers and is hosting a recruitment open day on November 13 at its Cowley House depot where job seekers can fast track their application.
Members of the Oxford Bus Company team will be on hand to answer questions and to offer people the opportunity to try out driving a bus. PCV drivers can secure a £3,000 joining bonus and trainee driver rates of pay were recently increased by £1 an hour to £13.78, this increases to £14.78 once drivers complete their induction. Hourly rates are higher at weekends and nights.
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