It’s been 15 years since Leo Pham swapped baking for bus driving and in his time at the wheel he has won many fans.
“Passengers tell me, ‘You are my favourite bus driver’, and children say they want to grow up and be bus drivers,” said the industry veteran.
“I am thinking, ‘Oh! You have to study something.'”
Mr Pham’s attention to detail and exceptional customer service skills have won him a top gong from the bus driving industry in NSW.
Nominated by colleagues at Premier Illawarra, Mr Pham was recently named Outer-Metropolitan Bus Driver of the Year.
The awards have been held every year since 2006 by BusNSW.
“I don’t know how I got the award because I just go to work and try to do a good job and then go home,” he said.
Mr Pham said he loved his job and kept out of trouble by working six days a week.
He believed bus driving was an easier alternative to being a baker.
“At my previous job I worked in a bakery and at night-time I had to stay awake to make bread,” Mr Pham said.
“Passengers get on the bus and joke about asking for loaves of bread and meat pies.”
However, Mr Pham said his job had a serious side.
“Driving on the road, it is easy to make mistakes and now I am Driver of the Year, I have to keep doing everything right otherwise, if I do something wrong my friends will laugh at me,” he said.
Keeping the community rolling
BusNSW president and Premier Transport Group managing director John King was delighted Mr Pham received the award.
“Leo is an interesting character and his high level of customer service shone through,” Mr King said.
“He has a safe driving record and [looks after his] vehicles.
“Leo is a team player and I think that is probably the most important thing in the bus industry. We are all team players, and he’s a great family man as well.”
Mr King said the Illawarra team was proud of their colleague’s achievement.
“Our drivers in the Illawarra are second-to none,” he said.
“They’ve been through floods, fires, a pandemic and they never faltered.
“Everybody stood up to the challenge of making sure we kept our communities rolling and connected.”
Belinda Guillard from Busways was also named Metropolitan/Outer Metropolitan Bus Driver of the Year.