30 May 2023
National Express West Midlands has given a fond farewell to its longest-serving employee after an incredible 56 years of loyal service to his customers and colleagues.
75-year-old Bob Smith’s lengthy career was celebrated by family, friends and colleagues at the bus operator’s Acocks Green garage with a traditional bus pull of a MCW Metrobus.
The bus was provided by Bob’s colleague, National Express West Midlands’ driver development coach Andy Walcott, who acquired the Metrobus for preservation in 2010.
Bob, who lives in south Yardley in Birmingham, joined the company as a bus conductor in 1967 when he was just 18. From the age of 21 he then spent the next 54 years driving hundreds of thousands of National Express West Midlands bus passengers and colleagues around the region.
Customers may recognise Bob from his time as designated driver on the company’s former Dorridge bus routes before he became a staff bus driver, transporting fellow colleagues for the last 20 years of his career.
Mat Dale, operations manager at National Express West Midlands, said: “Bob will be sorely missed. He was a top-notch bloke - very honest, kind, and always willing to help whenever he could. He’s a bit of an icon at our Acocks Green garage and we’ll all really miss him.
“On behalf of everyone at the garage, I’d like to thank Bob for his dedication over the years. He’s been a brilliant driver which was proven by his recent Master Driver status, and his knowledge and experience of the roads was unrivalled.
“We’ve really enjoyed working with Bob and wish him all the best for his retirement.”
Bob was considered a top-class driver and was recently awarded Master Driver status, making him one of the safest drivers on the road. He plans to spend his retirement renovating his house, working on his garden and travelling.
National Express West Midlands’ award-winning Master Driver programme recognises excellence in driving. It measures the performance of drivers and identifies those with an impeccable safety record and outstanding driving skills.
But it goes beyond driving skills, also recognising drivers who are ambassadors for customer service and impress customers each and every day through consistent and exceptional demonstration of the company’s customer service standards.
This year a new tier called Elite Drivers has been introduced, celebrating those Master Drivers who demonstrate high performance year after year. In its most recent programme for 2022 National Express West Midlands has recognised 130 Master Drivers and 15 Elite Drivers.
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