Southern Irishman John Butler, 72, describes bus driving simply as dealing with a ''passing parade of people.''
He should know because he celebrated 50 years driving Wellington buses today.
Born in 1941 Mr Butler first started driving buses in Cheshire before travelling to Melbourne where he worked on the trams for two years.
The son of a Shell Oil Refinery worker started working on the buses in Wellington in March 1963.
He describes bus driving as being a 'passing parade' of passengers and their drivers.
''People come and they go. Time marches on. Nothing really stays in my memory about the job. It's been good.''
He and his wife live in Newtown.
''We are both still going. We have a son. I've enjoyed the buses. I would not have stayed on otherwise. Getting up early and being on shift work you've got to use a bit of true grit to get to work and keep going.''
He found the first five years from 1963-68 to be the most difficult period on the job in Wellington.
''For the first five years you serve your time. You keep getting these warning notes from the bosses telling you you've got to change your tune or go and get another job.
''I committed myself. It's been a fulltime job just trying to keep out of trouble. I've never been robbed and have had nothing worth talking about happen to me. I took things easy. I've been lucky.''
When he first started driving in Wellington in 1963 he was at the wheel of the old ''crash gear-boxes'' on runs like the the Fortification
Road run in the hills of Miramar. After 50 years on the job he is happy to work broken shifts every day and is equally at home behindthe wheels of modern trolley and diesel buses.
''I do a shift starting at 7:40 in the morning. I finish about 12 o'clock and get back into it again at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.''
To commemorate his 50 years on the job Mr Butler was assigned to PR duties today.
His bosses put a barbecue on for him with his workmates at the Go Bus, Onepu Road, Kilbirnie depot.
''They've taken me off my duties today. I'm on PR duties,'' Mr Butler quipped.
Away from the buses he was a keen tramper in the Tararuas and tramps like the 'southern crossing'' from Otaki to north of Upper Hutt had helped him keep fit in his sedentary occupation.
''I've got no plans of retiring at the moment. The health is good. I'd do the same thing all over again,'' Mr Butler said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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