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Being a bus driver – what’s it like?

If you’ve imagined life as a bus driver, you might have pictured yourself out on the open road – but what is working as a bus driver really like?

An HCT Group Driver on the job - It's a great career

It’s about the people

When our team tells us what they really enjoy about the job, the first thing they talk about is the passengers.  The best bus drivers are not just outstanding drivers – they are great at customer service too. A cheery welcome goes a long way towards brightening a passenger’s day – and the thanks you often receive will brighten yours.  If you drive regularly on the same route, you’ll start to get to know your regulars – and what they’re up to – you’re a real part of the community.

Serious professionals

The second thing our drivers say about their jobs is their pride – making sure that passengers are safe and comfortable on London’s busy roads is a significant responsibility. As a bus driver, you’re a professional, trained to a really high standard – with a big focus on operating vehicles safely. You’re also supported by the control room (called iBus) who providing you with help and information throughout the day. They’ll help you keep on time and guide you through things like short notice diversions. It’s a bit like the pit team in Formula 1. 

Shift working on a rota

There are some practical considerations you’ll need to be prepared for.  Driving a red bus involves shift work – it’s a 24 hour, seven-days a week operation. At HCT Group, the shifts are divided into three main rotas – earlies, middles and lates covering from about 4am to 1am the next day. We try to make sure people get the rota that suits them best, but because lots of people like earlies, you can’t always get to pick and choose. We also have night bus routes, ideal for night owls.

You can also expect to work on Saturdays and/or Sundays reasonably often – your weekend sometimes might be on a Tuesday and Wednesday. Whilst this can take some getting used to, most of our drivers come to like it – their rest days are often really peaceful as they avoid weekend crowds. 

If, for any reason, shift work isn’t for you, there are still opportunities available as an SEN Driver – driving kids with Special Educational Needs to school and back during term time. It’s a really rewarding role – you can find details here.   

Keep on learning 

We also offer detailed route learning if you want to drive on a variety of routes. Being able to drive multiple routes is also a great way of getting more overtime, if you want it. However, if job variety is not your thing and you prefer a routine, we’re also happy to let you focus on a specific route. 

It’s not just new routes you can learn. As a driving professional, you’ll need to keep improving your driving standards and there’s ongoing training to keep you in professional good standing. The depot team is also there to help and advise you as you develop your skills. 

Taken together, driving a red bus on London’s busy streets is a rewarding, responsible job. If it sounds like something you’d enjoy, why not apply for a place on our training programme today.