'One of the coolest jobs I ever had, before I got fired'

Last updated 14:22 28/06/2014
Mark Sainsbury
KENY BLECHYNDEN/FARIFAX NZ
CAREER CHANGE: Mark Sainsbury spent a brief period driving Wellington's "big red" trolleys in the late 1970s.

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Wellington's trolley buses have come a long way since veteran TV journalist Mark Sainsbury used to be behind the wheel.

Back then, it was not uncommon to see a driver sneaking in a cheeky cigarette while out on a run, or to get one who had enjoyed a few more beers than he should have during lunch.

"It was a different time back then, obviously," Sainsbury says. "It really was like [the TV show] On the Buses."

Sainsbury spent a brief period driving Wellington's "big red" trolleys in the late 1970s. They were the buses every driver in Wellington wanted to drive back then, even if they took some mastering, he says.

"Back then you could drive up Manners St, but there was parking on both sides, which was interesting. I remember driving through the Hataitai bus tunnel for the first time in my life. I almost shat myself, there was so little room. It was awful."

Drivers in those days were a different breed, too, Sainsbury says. It was not uncommon to see one of them jump out of their bus to help carry a passenger on board.

"Nowadays you wouldn't get away with any of that stuff. Occupational Health and Safety would get involved, and you would be sacked for abandoning your money box."

Sainsbury says he will feel a little sad when the capital's modern-day trolleys disappear from its streets in 2017.

But given how things go in and out of fashion, he will not be surprised if they make a comeback a few decades from now.

"They were cool. It was honestly one of the coolest jobs I ever had, before I got fired."

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- The Dominion Post

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