The male-dominated world of bus driving is slowly reversing thanks to Yellow Buses, which is seeing more women at the wheel.
The Bournemouth-based company has nearly 30 female drivers and this year aims to steer even more into training.
Yellow Buses found that many women never consider driving as a career, and is urging them to do a U-turn and think about it.
Driving often fits in well with mums who have children to look after and the multi-tasking required is right up their street.
For some bus users chatting with the driver is a highlight of their day and Yellow Buses staff are renowned for their friendliness.
With a mix of men and women driving the buses the company believes it will be able to offer an even better service.
And to introduce women to the industry the company is holding an open day for ladies on Wednesday, 23rd January, between 1pm and 7pm at Yeomans Road.
UK Bus Awards finalist Vanessa Knowling, 38, has been driving Yellow Buses for almost three years, and is proving a great success along with others including Sam Bowen, a driver and mentor, and Alison Mountford who drives coaches for National Express and has received lots of customer praise.
After 15 years in the hotel trade, Vanessa, a mother-of-one, decided on a change of direction – but never considered driving until a friend suggested it.
And since she has started, Vanessa has had 19 commendations from the public and was “highly commended” in the bus driver of the year competition.
Vanessa said: “When I decided to leave the catering trade I had to do something with an element of customer service because I like talking to the public.
“I had never thought about driving a bus but I filled in the application form and went for an interview and then I started training.
“During the training they said that with some of the elderly you might be the only person who speaks to them all day and the job is as much about making people happy as anything else.
“I love what I do, meeting all the different people. Women are as good as men and are able to multi-task and are good with the public.
“But driving is not a career that many women think about. But I definitely think more women should consider it.
“It requires so many different skills and really helps if you are a people-person. I’m able to defuse situations and I’ve never had any problems.
“The hours can be flexible so it is suitable for mums and I’m so glad I changed career.”
Jenni Wilkinson, Yellow Buses’ Head of Marketing, said: “We really are trying to encourage more women to become drivers.
“Traditionally it is a male-dominated world, but there is no need for it to be like that.
“We provide full training and the job suits women who are juggling a busy family life and are well used to multi-tasking.
“The men at Yellow Buses are very welcoming and those women who do decide to come on board are all enjoying their careers.”
Currently Yellow Buses employs about 350 drivers.
We will shortly be starting free pre-employment training sessions just for ladies – if you would like to be considered or to find out more email [email protected] or call 01202636014