Bus Talk: And the top drivers are…

Bus Talk column - 10 October 2019

Well done to Julie Mitchell and Bob Clouston as our Drivers of the Month for September. They are shining examples of good customer service on the Dunedin Orbus network – doing their best, keeping smiling, and caring about their passengers’ safety.

Both Bob and Julie said they really love the interaction with regulars and are grateful for the recognition. They each received a meal voucher from Bransons Eatery.

You can nominate for your favourite driver every month for the rest of the year. October nominations are open again at yoursay.orc.govt.nz/OrbusDriver, or call 0800 ORBUSDN (0800 672 8736).

Thank you to everyone who showed their appreciation – it was great to see so many lovely comments about the friendly Orbus drivers.

Bob Clouston

Bob has only been driving buses for GoBus for four and a half years, yet he has already made quite an impact.

Comments such as “best bus driver ever”, “he’s amazing”, “friendly, very kind, polite”, “always says hi and goodbye” and “top bloke” give you a taste of why his regulars on the Mosgiel service voted for him. 

“For me, it’s about making the journey pleasant so everyone enjoys it,” said Bob. “The buses are for people to use, so let’s let them use it. If people are having a bad day, I just smile at them and that often diffuses the situation.”

Bob always says thanks to people when they get off the bus, even if they don’t thank him.

“When a new person starts catching the bus who doesn’t say more than one word, I just stay friendly until eventually they’ll start to smile back and say thanks. What really tickles me pink is when I then see them on the road as I drive by and they wave at me!”

His philosophy is sound. “I treat people as I like to be treated. We all have a bad day sometimes but you try not to let the passenger see that. They don’t need to know that.”

It goes both ways – Bob likes his passengers too, saying they are nice and friendly.

“I especially like being able to help elderly and disabled and provide them with a comfortable journey. I have a 98-year-old passenger and I’d like to get her to her hundredth birthday still on the bus.”

Bob is a local, married with two kids, plus two grandkids. He was in business for himself previously but wanted to keep working.

“I like the customer service part of the role and I don’t like being in an office so it suits me well.”

 

Julie Mitchell

Julie, who moved to New Zealand from the UK four years ago, says she has always wanted to drive a big vehicle, bus or truck. After cleaning the buses at Ritchies for a couple of years, she was delighted to get her heavy vehicle licence and get behind the wheel.

“I just really enjoy the driving ‘the girls’”, she says.

And it shows. Passengers who voted for Julie, who is married and has a daughter, say she’s always smiling, helpful and a very good driver.

One of her regular services is the Ridge Runner, where she has to navigate some tiny lanes. Julie has been complimented for handling these well, with passengers saying; “Julie is friendly, patient and a safe driver” and “I always feel safe while she's driving”.

She says she also enjoys the passenger interaction, especially with her regulars.

“The passengers are great. I really enjoy seeing regular faces – we just have a good giggle.

“You try your hardest, so it really makes my day when someone gets on the bus miserable but ends up getting off happy.”

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