Josh West

Joshua West drives a huge, red, double decker bus, the no 148, through the streets of central London.

Fact titleFact data
Salary
£24,000 before overtime
Age
39
Training
Six-week bus-driving course

Each day is different for Josh, as bus drivers in his company work a variety of shifts. The longest is 12 hours; the shortest, 7 hours 24 minutes.

Josh's route from Shepherd's Bush to Camberwell takes him through some of the poorest parts of the capital, as well as swanky Park Lane, trendy Notting Hill and London's famous landmark, Big Ben.

His customers too, range from those not doing too well to American tourists looking for Hugh Grant's house, in Notting Hill.

Grumpy and Rude

Josh says his day can be made or ruined, by whether early customers are friendly and cheerful, or grumpy and rude. The worst are those who have a go when bad traffic makes the bus late. They blame him personally, though, he says, "It's not like I stopped along the way for a cup of tea".

His bus is really high-tech, with CCTV cameras, an electronic ramp and power steering. Everything is done with the gentle push of a button.

Boot Camp

But when Josh isn't driving, he likes nothing better than shouting at a bunch of people and making them suffer. And they thank him for it afterwards. Because whenever his shifts allow, Josh helps run a keep-fit "Boot Camp". Early in the mornings, come rain or snow, Josh is out in a local park, making people run up and down, and do push ups and sit ups, till they are screaming in pain. Afterward everyone goes for a slap-up breakfast.

One of these poor people being tortured by Josh is Lynn, his long-term girlfriend who has agreed to marry him. They will soon be tying the knot. Lynn is the love of his life and Josh hopes to take her to the Philippines, one day, to meet Rogelio and his family.

What do you take to work?

Obviously we have a uniform; we also have a T Key which allows us to change the destination of a bus, the cash tray, a spare till roll, an emergency pack in case the payment system packs up and we have to give traditional tickets, customer service tickets for if a customer has lost their wallet etc and we can give them a note to pay later.

We also have a Log card on which we note everything which happens on duty, a Duty card which lays out what time we have to be at each stop, when our breaks are etc. Finally, and most importantly, a PEN. We are not allowed to drive if we don't have a pen to write down what happens.

Tell us a secret

If I had my life to live over again, I would put a lot more work into being a professional American Football player. I played for several years but I could have done much more.

Tell us something about your job we would never know

So often the passengers don't pay attention. For example, it will say on the front of the bus '148 going to Camberwell,' and someone will get on at a bus stop and ask me "Is this going to Camberwell?" or "Is this a 148?" - or both.

Or the tannoy on the bus will say 'Next stop Camberwell' and immediately someone will ask me "What's the next stop?" It drives me crazy.

Tell us what you love/dread about your job

I love the freedom of the job. When I'm on the road I'm my own boss, and when there is not too much traffic it's wonderful driving the bus.

But because the 148 goes past the Houses of Parliament, where there are often demonstrations taking place, we can be diverted. No matter how often I warn the passengers beforehand, when I go off the route someone will definitely start complaining that we are going a different way.

Best and worst days in the job?

Best days are in the summer when the weather is nice and people are polite and friendly. Like when a tourist asks me to tell them when we arrive at a particular place, and I do, and they walk to the front of the bus to thank me. There is also a lady in a wheelchair who always wheels to the front of the bus, going out of her way to thank me and it really makes my day.

If you're late, some passengers will blame you personally
Josh

The worst days are when people blame you for things you have no control over. Like if there has been an accident up ahead, maybe even a fatal one, and the police are stopping traffic so that by the time you get to your stop you're late. It's not your fault, but some passengers will still blame you personally. I hate that!