The 2023 BusNSW Driver of the Year Awards were presented on 4 December 2023.
Winner: Helen Richards from CDCNSW
Helen has worked for CDC NSW for 23 years. Throughout that time, she has remained incredibly popular with both passengers and staff.
Customers often contact the company asking how they can catch her bus on weekends for family outings with their children. This is because Helen provides the kids with safety tips and shares her knowledge with all the families that travel with her.
As a result, Helen has received multiple compliments over many years from passengers for her empathy and outstanding performance.
Helen is seen as a mentor among her fellow drivers, and she goes out of her way to coach and provide trips to new employees. She also helps with organising buses within the depot and relieving as a yard person whenever needed.
Her driving record is outstanding with 100% on time running, safe driving and zero customer complaints.
Winner : Stephen O’Brien
A quiet and conscientious person Stephen is safety-focused both on and off the job. In his 19 years at Busways, he has never been in an on-road accident due to the precision and care he takes whilst driving.
Stephen’s smooth driving, calm and collected demeanour combined with his ability to think quickly on his feet and manage people through difficult situations have earned him many customer compliments.
In May this year, Stephen noticed a customer in his 20s who appeared agitated and disoriented. He pulled the bus over and sensitively asked him if he needed help. The passenger’s destination
was outside the bus route. Stephen recognised the passenger had an intellectual impairment and attempted to get him home by contacting the depot.
It turned out that the passenger’s mother had reported him missing to the police. While they waited for the police Stephen kept the customer calm even giving him some lunch from his own lunchbox until the police arrived.
Stephen displays this type of emotional intelligence and kindness to everyone he meets – whether they are customers fellow drivers or depot staff.
Rural & Regional
Winner: Robert Knight from Ballina Buslines
Robert (Bob) has had a career as a bus driver which spans over 49 years.
Bob has undertaken the service and school run between Lismore to Ballina since 2000. All his customers know him by name and his passion for the service is legendary.
Bob’s presentation is impeccable. He wears his uniform, complete with a tie, with pride. Bob’s driving history is also outstanding. He is always ready to support customers whether that be with a helping hand or a friendly chat.
Bob has taught generations of students to board correctly and respect the bus driver and their fellow passengers. He is now transporting a second and third generation of students much to the parents’ delight.
Bob’s attention to detail is exceptional – he knows all bus types, can answer any ticket question, and is the first to help new staff members on runs if they need it.
His bus is always impeccable and not a day goes by without Bob mopping and cleaning his bus.
Bob retires from bus driving this year and this award is recognition of his outstanding contribution to the industry over nearly five decades.
Coach & Charter
Winner: Richard Ettia from Kinetic Bus & Coach
Richard entered the bus and coach industry with exceptional standards. He is proactive insightful and has a positive attitude toward his job and the industry.
Richard’s work goes above and beyond the call of duty both for his employer and the passengers he carries. Indeed, Richard seems to have a positive influence on all his passengers.
One Year 10 student expressed it this way: “I must commend you on finding such an amazing person to join your company. From the brief time that our Year 10 has known him, we have been blown away by his compassion, kindness, humour, and willingness to interact. I speak for the whole of my grade when I say that his incredible driving ability is overshadowed only by his pure kind nature.”
Richard’s safety performance is outstanding. His personal presentation is also second to none. His employer believes that Richard would be the ideal candidate if the industry was looking for the ‘face’ of bus driving in the future. In the words of his manager “If the industry could attract more people like Richard… it would transform the industry.”