If you’ve ever taken a lift in one of Derry’s famous banana buses, chances are that Martin Bryson has driven you.
If he didn’t, he’s probably taught your bus man how to drive.
Martin called it a day yesterday after spending the past 31 years as a school bus driver.
During the past three decades the local man has done runs to every primary and post primary school across Derry.
“I loved the job, you couldn’t ask for a better job,” he said. “Before I drove the bus I worked as a builder. I got a job as a relief driver in 1983, and became permanent in 1985. Back then you had to do a bus test.
“I did all the schools runs in the mornings. Being a bus driver is a big responsibility.”
Martin says that he always liked to do the bus runs for the special needs schools.
“I often get people stopping me, telling that I was their bus driver,” he said. “But the kids from the special schools, they always remember you. I always liked doing the runs to the special schools
“This job is much more than just driving a bus, it is a big responsibility, especially when you think that you are driving a bus with two or three wheelchairs. If someone runs into you there are a lot of things to think about.”
Martin said that luckily school bus drivers weren’t bothered too much during the Troubles apart from the odd stone thrown at a window.
“You work all year around,” he said. “When the term was over we would be doing summer schemes and summer camps. The old Albian buses were noisy things that had crash gear boxes. It could be hairy at times driving in the snow, especially the country runs up round Donemana, Claudy and Eglinton.”
In 1991, Martin took up a job as a driving instructor and spent the next ten years training drivers before taking a position as a senior driver. But yesterday marked his last day on the buses.
“I am 61 in October and I have decided that it is time to go,” he said. “But I will miss the craic with the guys.”