A Newcastle bus driver with almost 45 years on the roads is encouraging more women to jump on board on the buses with the chance for a long term career.
Stagecoach North East driver Angie McGill has called for female drivers to join the industry in the lead up to International Women’s Day on Thursday 8th March, which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
Based at the Walkergate depot, 63-year-old Angie from Heaton has worked as a driver on the roads of Newcastle for the past 42 years, having worked as a conductress for the first three years of her long-standing career.
After leaving school to work in a chemist and then a fruit shop, Angie joined the Tyne and Wear PTE in 1973 at the age of 18 when her Dad, who also worked as a bus driver and a driving instructor, mentioned that the company were looking for conductresses.
Despite not having a full license, Angie was given the opportunity to learn to drive, first gaining an automatic license before progressing to a full manual license as time went on.
Now almost 45 years later, Angie is keen to promote the opportunities available to women in what might be considered a male-oriented industry, but one in which she has thoroughly enjoyed and is welcoming more female employees.
Angie said: “Although when I started there weren’t many women drivers at all, it is certainly becoming much more popular as a career choice and we have around twenty women drivers in Newcastle at the moment. However, it would be great to see even more women take up the role and enjoy the benefits of a lasting and flexible career.
“People assume that driving a bus might be hard or that the guys give you are a hard time but both of those ideas couldn’t be further from the truth.
“The buses are great to drive, with power steering now making it really easy and they really are quite luxurious, especially compared to the older days! The team at Walkergate are fantastic, with really good banter, and I have made some amazing friends. To stay here 45 years just shows how much it means to work here and I think there are some great opportunities for a long term career, which is quite rare these days.
“To women who might come on board and see me driving and think ‘well I could do that,’ I would say, yes you can!”
Angie worked full time for 42 years before seeing an opportunity to go part-time, and now enjoys driving the morning shift between Chillingham Road Ends through Killingworth and Chapel House and back, and gets to know many regular customers on her route which is one of the best parts of her job.
Driving is certainly in the family for Angie, as her Mum was also a bus driver and her brother Paul also works at the same depot where he has been a driver for 30 years.
She added: “With driver training taking around six weeks, it’s certainly possible to be on the roads with two months if you pass the tests and learn the routes. Although there are challenges as with any job, it’s a lovely feeling being out and about and helping people to get to their destination, and customers by and large are really nice and chatty. I love it!”
Angie will celebrate her 45 years service shortly and plans to continue driving up until her retirement, and hopes there will be even more women to join her and eventually take her place.