Want to be a coach driver?
East Yorkshire Coaches is a division of East Yorkshire, and has a modern coach fleet running holidays, day excursions and private hires throughout the UK and Western Europe. East Yorkshire also runs National Express coaches throughout the UK.
If you are interesting in working for us, please see the Join the Team page for any coach driver vacancies.
What’s it like being a coach driver? Find out with Juliet, who joined East Yorkshire Coaches in 2017.
How did you get into coach driving?
I love driving, and I’ve worked in driving roles in the past – driving armoured vans for the Royal Mail and couriering people in cars – but I’d never driven a bus or coach before.
I’d lived abroad for a few years, and speak good Spanish, so I’d contacted East Yorkshire Coaches to ask if they had any courier roles. After having a chat with me, they mentioned they were recruiting for trainee coach drivers, and suggested I might like to apply. I hadn’t considered this before, but I looked into it, and thought it was something I’d enjoy doing, so I went for it. I was invited to an assessment day, and then an interview and a driving assessment, and after passing various theory tests and medicals I was lucky enough to be selected for the trainee coach driver programme. I did my coach test with East Yorkshire Bus & Coach Training, who taught me everything I needed to know, and then I spent a while building up experience driving local buses and National Express coaches, before starting driving full time with East Yorkshire Coaches.
As a coach driver with East Yorkshire Coaches can you describe the work you do?
We do all sorts of jobs – every day is different!
I often work on school contracts, taking school kids on day trips or to sporting events. Today, I’m taking a group of primary school children to their swimming lessons, before going to drive a college bus to take some students home.
I do day trips for the general public, too, to places such as Chester, Whitby and other places of interest. They’re always good fun!
I’ve just got back from a six day tour to France and Germany with a school group, which was great, as we got to see some fantastic places such as the Black Forest. That was my first coach trip to the continent, but I shared the driving with more experienced colleagues, who gave me lots of support, and everything went well, so I was really happy.
Describe a typical day in the life of a coach driver?
I always do my planning the night before – I check who I’m picking up, the route I’m taking, and make sure I know where I’m going, and that there are no road closures or issues that might affect my journey. We tend to get our work a couple of weeks in advance, so we can plan our jobs in. However, sometimes sporting events are cancelled because of bad weather, or a customer changes their schedule last minute, so we need to be a bit adaptable. For longer trips, or trips to the continent, there’s a bit more to prepare – I need to make sure I have all the paperwork I need, such as my health card and passport.
It can often be an early start, so you need to be a morning person! I come in and get the vehicle ready, making sure I’ve got everything and I need and my coach is all ready to go.
Then it’s off to pick up my passengers. It might be a day trip with the general public, or a school trip. The passengers are always lovely – they’re looking forward to their journey or day out, so they’re always in a good mood!
Once you’ve picked up your coach, you’re your own boss to a certain extent – you have to be prepared to make decisions and solve problems, and you don’t have someone watching over your shoulder all the time. I enjoy the freedom – although I also like knowing that there’s help on the other end of the phone if I need it.
At the end of the day, I can leave my coach at the depot and know that the engineering team will have it fuelled up and ready for the next day.
How many days do you spend away on tour every year?
As I’ve only been working a year, I’ve only been on one long trip abroad so far, where I was away for six days. Some of the more experienced drivers do more trips abroad, or long trips away in the UK. It really depends on the work you’re doing – for example, with National Express, you are away two or three nights a week, but if you’re doing day trips or school contracts, you won’t spend any nights away at all.
What sort of coaches do you drive?
We’ve got a varied fleet, so I’ll be driving anything from our little 19 seater minibus, to a big tri-axle coach, to double decker buses.
They’re all nice to drive, but my favourite are the Diplomat coaches – I think they look really smart, with a lovely glass roof!
Do you regularly go to places you have never been to before?
I’ve been to some popular destinations a few times, such as Flamingo Land, but I’ve visited lots of places I’ve never been to before. A few weeks ago, I got to look around Chester Zoo, which was fun!
If I’m going somewhere I’ve never driven before, I plan my route in advance, and it’s important to have a good sat nav – my Tom Tom never lets me down! My colleagues are always willing to give suggestions on routes and roads. Some of them have been coach drivers for decades, and they’ve been everywhere – I was asking them for tips before I went to drive on my tour in Germany, and they gave me really helpful advice about some roads which look nice and wide on the map, but in reality are really narrow!
What are the good parts about the job?
I’m a people person, so my favourite part of the job is the interaction with customers. I meet some really nice people, and everyone’s always lovely and thanks me for driving them – even the school children are usually well mannered!
I also enjoy being with my colleagues – it’s a great company to work for, as there’s always plenty of support from fellow coach drivers and managers. If I’m ever not sure of something, people are always happy to help talk things through. It’s a nice environment to work in.
I love going to different places, especially the European trips – I’ve got the opportunity to visit some brilliant places I never even knew existed!
And I’ve always enjoyed driving – ever since I first passed my test at age 17. It gives you freedom and independence, and that’s what I love about it.
Every job has a downside – what do you dislike about coach driving?
You can’t be a coach driver if you’re afraid of hard work – the days can be long and tiring. However, you’re not driving all the time – there are limits for how long you can drive for within a set period, and on long trips we share driving with a colleague.
The good thing is that after a long day, I can leave my coach at the depot and head straight back home, and know that it’ll be ready and waiting for me to pick up again next time I need it. I don’t have to worry about work once I’m at home.