2019 Top London Bus Driver

The Luke Rees-Pulley Award for Top London Bus Driver sponsored by Luke Rees-Pulley Charitable Trust and Transport for London

Winner, Gold Award, Wasiq Ali – RATP Dev London

We really do believe that Wasiq embodies all that is great about the world-renowned London bus driver – and it all comes so naturally to him. He looks the part, acts the part, and IS the part, a true professional who not only delights his customers but is also a real pleasure to work with. Wasiq is an outstanding driver – a real ambassador for Transport for London – but don’t take our word for it. See below for what his customers, co-workers and managers have to say.

When the judges assessed the many entries for this category, there was one that stood out from the others. Wasiq is a Hello London Champion, makes good use of the PA, and is a great role model for other drivers. He is always looking out for his passengers, such as getting out of his seat to help an elderly lady on and off the bus, assisting a customer who was having an asthma attack, and using the PA to inform some passengers new to London where they needed to alight. Needless to say, he’s had numerous customer commendations summed up by: “The driver’s action brought tears of joy to passengers on the bus.”

Winner, Silver Award, Nick Kukaj – Abellio London

Nick started with us here at Abellio in February 2019 and since the very beginning it became clear that he is literally one of a kind and that he was born to be a bus driver. He has such passion and enthusiasm for his job, taking pride in every aspect of his work and esuring that he consistently delivers the very best customer service. Whenever he arrives for work he is upbeat, beaming from ear to ear and his happiness and positivity is infectious. Nothing is ever too much for him and going above and beyond is something Nick just does as a standard. Nick understands what our customers expectations and needs are and he delivers this in a positive and professional manner. He tries to help his fellow colleagues whenever he can be it either by a kind word and a smile if they are having a bad day or by giving examples of what he would do or does in difficult situations. Nick deserves to win this award because he is the very personification of the perfect London Bus Driver and we would love to see him recognised for the amazing job he does day in and day out!

This driver is a bit of a cheeky chappie. He’s always smiling and interacting with his customers.

Winner, Bronze Award, Peter Huttly – Go-Ahead London

Peter has worked at Orpington Bus Garage for 6 years. He always comes to work with an approachable and understanding attitude which never falters. He makes his passengers his priority and cares greatly about the impression of the company he gives to his customers. He is passionate about providing the best service he can, accompanied with a smile and friendly greeting. This is reflected by the Certificate of Achievement he was awarded for Outstanding Achievement by way of a Customer Commendation and the many letters of praise he has received. Peter is a Hello London Champion for Orpington and was a finalist for the UK Bus Awards 2016 and shortlisted for the London Bus Awards 2017. Peter continues to provide a consistently high level of customer service everyday which never seems to waiver. Instead of others influencing his mood and attitude, he keeps stead-fast with his bright and bubbly nature which has a positive effect on everyone else. Peter is a real credit to not only Orpington Garage, but also the Company.

He’s a Hello London Champion and has received commendations saying “He’s a Star” and “What a legend”.

Finalist, Andres Austin-Bennett – Abellio London

Andres is a bright, bubbly member of the team here at Walworth. He first found fame outside of transport industry, appearing in multiple films and as a character in the BBC show ‘Bad Education’. However, despite his celebrity status, Andres has stayed down to earth and has channelled his block-busting charisma into providing a first class service aboard his vehicle. He says that this is because bus driving is his passion and something that he cares deeply about – he loves meeting different passengers every day and driving in one of London’s iconic red buses. Andres has impeccable attendance and always brings a smile to the faces of everyone in the depot. He arrives early for work, not just seeing bus driving as getting customers from A to B, but appreciating the whole journey and the customer’s experience. He treats everyone in the garage like his family and his laugh can be heard from outside of the depot! When we brought in the new uniform range for drivers in January, Andres modelled the range, posting on facebook to his colleagues and being an all-round champion of the transition to the new uniform. He’s also recently been snapped as one of the new ‘Faces of Abellio’, where his picture is part of a new livery on an Abellio training bus to be driven round London for everyone to see. He’s received customer commendations, commendations from staff, perfect driving standards assessments, and has stayed calm under pressure when faced with some inevitably hard (and unavoidable) incidences out on London’s busy roads. Unfortunately in February there was an incident where a member of the public jumped in front of his bus, potentially as a means to take his own life. Not only was Andres able to stop the bus in time, but after the member of the public ran away, he reported this to police, and immediately exited his cab to support and reassure his passengers. In the CCTV, the passengers could be seen crowding around him and patting him on the back to commend his quick and customer-focused reaction. If he had not had such good control of the bus in this incident, the outcome could have been very different.

Finalist, David Harris – Arriva London

It’s been less than three years since David Harris commenced his career as a bus driver and in that very short period, he has excelled in his role on countless occasions. His overall performance stands out from the average bus driver, demonstrated by the numerous customer commendations he continues to receive. He has a welcoming and approachable demeanour and is always eager to assist his customer, be it his colleagues at work or passengers on board his bus. The contagious smile he possessed when first joining the team at Thornton Heath is still very much evident and it remains contagious. It was clear back in December 2016 that David was destined for great things and he has confirmed that belief to this very day.

Finalist, Christine Watkins – Arriva London

Christine has now completed 21 years’ service with Arriva as a Bus Driver. Throughout her career her approach to the job has been exemplary. In carrying out her duties, her helpfulness and beaming smile says everything about her determination to deliver good customer service. She has received countless commendations from members of the public praising the way she has done her job over the years. Likewise she is a very popular figure amongst her work colleagues. People now grown up remember travelling on her bus when they went to school. Always ready to go the extra mile to deliver excellent customer service she leads by example. She is the ultimate ambassador for Arriva, TfL and the bus industry itself when it comes to dealing with the public. Christine’s friendly and approachable manner has resulted in her receiving quite a number of commendations over the years. A few examples of more recent ones are listed below.

Finalist, Simon Ellis – Go-Ahead London

Simon Ellis started as a new entrant apprentice with Go-Ahead London on 3 December 2018. He joined Croydon on 14 February 2019 and is the garage’s first apprentice, having successfully navigated his way through the Camberwell Academy over the intervening period. Simon previously worked in IT and fancied a change of career. Judging by the five commendations he has received in six weeks, it is fair to say that IT’s loss is very much public transport’s gain, with passenger feedback such as: “he is the best driver I have had all year, the most enthusiastic”, “this driver really made my day”, “fantastic customer service”, “waits for elderly to sit down and buggies to get into place before he moves off”, “everyone is going off the bus with a smile on their face” and “please give him a massive pat on the back”. Simon embodies everything our apprenticeship scheme has been designed to achieve and it is very apparent that his growing number of admirers are keen he secures public recognition. Simon’s impact at his home garage has quickly been recognised by his colleagues. Customer service clearly comes naturally to Simon and any garage would be proud to employ him. He makes a difference every time he enters service and his positive approach to life is rubbing off on other staff and passengers. Simon would be a worthy winner of the Award.

Finalist, Agnieszka Narbut – Metroline

Agnieszka Narbut is an excellent driver who works at Willesden Garage, and who has been with Metroline since September 2007. Her friendly, hardworking manner and skillful driving have seen her receive a number of commendations from customers, managers as well as TfL. Over her 12 year driving career, her always friendly and open manner, have earned her praise from regular customers who will loyally use her service. In addition, her calm and collected approach to driving has helped her to avoid any blameworthy accidents during her career. Regularly scoring highly in assessments, she is also a keen observer of the correct rules and standards for drivers. Agnieszka perfectly reflects the goals of Vision Zero, providing a safe service for customers and other road users. With satisfied customers, a spotless record and recognition for her driving, she is an exemplary bus driver.

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