Top London Bus Driver

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Luke Rees-Pulley in whose memory the charitable trust was foundedLuke Rees-Pulley was passionate about buses throughout his life, which was tragically cut short by murder. The trust founded in his name seeks to rekindle the pride and status of bus drivers in the capital to the levels seen in the 1930s - when to be a bus driver was to be a respected professional providing an essential service. This award is part of that process, recognising and rewarding top-quality service and commitment.

This award is presented to the London bus driver who has best demonstrated excellent performance from the customer perspective in the 12 month period to the end of June each year. 

All London bus garages are eligible to submit nominations for their best-performing drivers based on: 

  • Mystery Traveller reports
  • Driving Standard Assessment reports
  • Public Commendations
  • Driver Monitoring (Internal) assessments
  • Accident record

If necessary other areas of performance, including discipline and attendance, will be considered.

The winner of the Top London Bus Driver prize will be the individual who best represents the customer’s ideal:

  • a driver who is friendly, helpful, conscientious, mindful of passengers’ comfort and well being – in short, a true professional and worthy ambassador for the job

Results 2017

Beddington Garage's Sabatino Barbarino.Winner, Gold Award

Sabatino Barbarino - Abellio London

Tino, as Abellio London driver Sabatino Barbarino is known, is loved by his colleagues and customers. He's a regular driver on the 109 route and shows a lot of empathy with others, whether it's his customers on the bus or colleagues in the Beddington garage where he works. One of his regular passengers is a blind man, so Tino always leaves his cab and helps the man onto the bus and takes him to a seat, after making an announcement to the other passengers so that they know the bus will stop longer than usual at that stop. He consistently delivers a service that he thinks is quite normal, but it's always above and beyond what you would expect to see from a London bus driver. His many passenger commendations show this, as do the feelings of his colleagues. In a world where customer experience is so important, Tino is a star.

The judges noted that not only is Sabatino popular with his colleagues, but the very high number of public commendations he receives shows that he's popular with his customers too. He takes a family view of life and shows empathy to customers and colleagues alike, making him a worthy Gold Winner.

Helen Webster from Arriva London, finalist for the second year in a row.Winner, Silver Award

Helen Webster - Arriva London

Helen Webster's contagious smile and friendly, professional approach to the role of bus driver were clear for everyone to see and she quickly set examples for others to aspire to at Arriva London's Enfield garage. It wasn't long before Helen began receiving customer commendations, good driving observations and mystery traveller reports, a true reflection of her desire and aspirations to deliver the best service to her passengers. She regularly takes buses to local schools where she answers the pupil's questions in a very engaging manner, often reading to them and singing with them. Helen is very proud to be a bus driver and has appeared in a driver recruitment video as well as on the side of a training vehicle. Helen is one of those individuals who has that rare ability to motivate those around her with merely her smile and personality. Her colleagues value her immensely and are often heard asking her for guidance and advice, knowing she has a fantastic relationship with her passengers. She regularly goes above and beyond her usual expected duty and is forever conscientious, hardworking and considerate to her colleagues and customers.

The judges were impressed with Helen's mystery traveller scores as well as her work in schools to encourage bus use. Her contagious smile clearly sets a good example to others.

Peter Whiteman, a senior driver from Sutton Garage.Winner, Bronze Award

Peter Whiteman - Go-Ahead London

Maintaining a 100% attendance record at work is quite an accomplishment, and Go-Ahead London driver Peter Whitemen has managed it for 27 years, something that he puts down to healthy eating and having a laugh! Peter is one of the senior drivers in the Sutton garage with an exemplary record of 27 accident free years of service. Peter started driving a bus after being made redundant from his previous job in 1989 and loved every minute of it from when he first stepped into the cab. At present Peter is on early turn rota which covers duties on three different London bus routes 151, 93 and 213. Peter is very professional and courteous towards his passengers and gives them time to be seated before pulling away from the stop and giving them a very smooth ride.

Peter's accident-free driving record and 100% attendance over 27 years really impressed the judges. Consistently good mystery traveller reports show that Peter is one of London's best bus drivers.

A man with sharp reactions - Oliver Salbris from Putney Garage, who managed to avoid a jogger pushed in front of his bus.Specially Commended
Oliver Salbris - Go-Ahead London

Oliver Salbris had taken his bus out of Go-Ahead London's Putney garage on 5th May this year as he does every morning. But on that day, Oliver was faced with an unexpected incident. A male jogger on Putney Bridge pushed an unsuspecting female pedestrian into the path of Oliver's bus. He reacted instantly and swerved the vehicle away from the pedestrian just in time without hitting oncoming traffic. A very serious accident was avoided and the pedestrian was unharmed. Oliver has been universally commended for his attention and swift reactions in the media, but what wasn't widely reported was that Oliver stopped the bus to see to the welfare of the female pedestrian. He is a credit to the industry.

The judges considered that Oliver's actions in safely swerving to miss the lady, and then stopping safely to look after her until the emergency services arrived, made him worthy of a special commendation.

Compliments at least once a month are part of Clement Grant's career with Arriva London.Finalists

Clement Grant - Arriva London

Many bus drivers will go a whole career in the industry and receive a handful of commendations. Arriva London driver Clement Grant, on the other hand, has amassed an outstanding number to a point where the garage manager receives at least one a month. Many of Clement's customers have commented about his infectious smile and his professional and polite demeanour, some going as far as to say his actions had made their day. He walks into the garage everyday with a big smile on his face, greeting every one of his colleagues in a courteous manner. He is an real pleasure to work with and popular with his colleagues. His enthusiasm is a shining example to other drivers.

The large number of commendations, and Clement's excellent drive assessments, impressed the judges.

50 years of driving a London bus - a landmark achieved by Alperton's Michael Francis earlier this year.Michael Francis - Metroline

Michael Francis has just celebrated 50 years of driving a London bus. He started his career at Stonebridge Park garage as a Conductor in 1967 until passing his PCV driving test in September 1970. He stayed at Stonebridge as a driver until moving to Alperton Garage in 1981 where he remained giving a further 36 years, now working for Metroline West. During his time Michael has maintained an excellent driving record of 45 years of accident free driving. He is a quiet man who loves driving and serving his community, and he sees his regular passengers more as friends for whom he want to provide the best possible service. Michael has received many commendations over the years for his driving and attitude. Alperton garage has received numerous phone calls from members of the public who have phoned in to praise the enthusiasm, dedication and service provided by Michael.

The judges were impressed with Michael's excellent driving record over 50 years as a bus driver.

Hounslow Heath's Altin Cana is another long-serving driver.Altin Cana - RATP Dev London

Whether you're a tourist who is lost in London, a customer who is a little frail or simply a busy commuter who needs to get to work, Altin Cana is exactly the type of person you hope to have at the wheel of a bus. Altin drives for RATP Dev London and is one of Hounslow Heath garage's most experienced drivers. He drives on route 116 (Hounslow to Ashford Hospital), regularly used by those who have outpatient clinic appointments who are often elderly and/or unwell. Altin takes extra care of his customers and makes sure anyone who is unsteady on their feet is properly seated before pulling away. Having completed TfL's Hello London course at the end of last year, Altin has grown more confident about using the PA system and many customers have commented on how helpful announcements have been. He generally engages with his customers as he sees that they respond positively to this interaction. A true professional at all times, Altin is proud to be the face of Transport for London to the thousands of customers he safely delivers to their destinations every day. Back at his garage, Altin is a great team player, a proud colleague who makes a positive contribution towards making Hounslow Heath one of the best in London.

The judges noted that Altin was embracing new customer skills and the Hello London scheme, which have resulted in very good mystery traveller scores.

RATP's Stamford Brook garage is home to Eric Forde.Eric Forde - RATP Dev London

Step aboard RATP Dev London's driver Eric Forde's bus and he will always gladly go the extra mile. He prides himself on his knowledge of London and makes it a point of learning bus routes and their calling points, not only those from the Stamford Brook depot where he's based, so he can advise customers on their onward journeys, if asked. He keeps a careful look-out for anyone who he considers to be a vulnerable customer and ensures they are properly catered for while on his bus. A busy commuter often needs nothing more than a friendly greeting, but other customers - tourists, visitors to London, the frail, wheelchairs and those who are plain lost - need much more. Being able to anticipate a customer's needs is one of the keys to providing a great journey and Eric does this with aplomb. He's a strong advocate for using the PA system to keep customers informed about their journey. If he's running early, for example, and he has to hold his bus back, he tells his customers why he cannot move. If his bus is delayed for any reason, he will make sure that customers are aware of the problem. He has found that customers are much more understanding of a delay if they are told about it in advance.

Eric's ability to adapt to different types of customers and anticipation of their needs was noted by the judges. He makes good use of the PA system and puts London in a good light with visitors.

Tina Lee is a relatively recent recruit to bus driving but has already made her mark.Tina Lee - Stagecoach London

Tina Lee is what every driver should aspire to be - welcoming customers on board while going above and beyond to help make their journeys as easy and comfortable as possible. Tina drives for Stagecoach London from its Barking garage and the depot receives many commendations about Tina. Despite having only been a driver for a little over a year, Tina has utilised her training and infectious personality to make every customer, driver and colleague instantly warm to her, instantly earning respect amongst her peers. Tina stands out as an exceptional driver who loves her job and enjoys the interaction with customers and colleagues while ensuring she is professional. Tina's initial training prepared her for the bus industry, however, it is her personal attributes that have meant she has excelled and been very successful in this role.

The judges considered that Tina has made a big impact with many favourable public commendations.

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