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Wales’ longest serving bus driver vows to stay behind the wheel

01 Jul 2024 3 minute read
Kenny Beckers, 76, from Swansea, who is believed to be the UK’s longest serving bus driver. Photo First Bus/PA Wire

A Swansea man believed to be the UK’s longest serving bus driver has vowed to stay behind the wheel.

Kenny Beckers, 76, has driven buses since he was 21. There is no maximum age for someone to carry out the role in the UK.

Mr Beckers’ employer, First Bus, estimated he has driven seven million customers and clocked up around 800,000 miles in his five decades as a bus driver.

The grandfather began his career in the sector as a conductor at the age of 18, before becoming a driver three years later.

Takeovers

He has always been based in Swansea, but worked for five different companies, mainly due to takeovers and management buy-outs.

Mr Becker said: “It was great being a driver in 1969. We had so many routes and carried so many passengers, including lots from all the factories, the collieries and British Steel at Port Talbot, but, of course, all that declined in the 1980s.

“I also remember we had double-deckers back then, but passengers were only allowed to smoke on the top deck.

“Upstairs was like a mist. All the factory girls and everybody else was up there smoking, it was unbelievable.”

Mr Beckers said the “loss of commuters” has been the biggest change during his carrier.

“The reduction in office workers and shop workers, and more people buying cars, means we’ve seen a decline in bus travel,” he said.

“However, we are doing a lot more for disabled people now. Back in the day, buses had steps so if you had a pram or a buggy you just had to fold it up and get on with it.

“We now have buses that are lower, pavements that are higher and ramps.

“It’s great to see services increasing again in Swansea, as the key to getting people back on the bus is by putting on more services, but I completely understand that it’s a fine line.

“But, things are definitely picking up, and that’s great news.”

Semi-retirement

Mr Beckers is in semi-retirement working two days a week, but has no intention of stopping completely.

He said: “Once my body feels like enough is enough then I’ll give up, but I don’t like putting a time on things.

“I’ve seen people put times on stuff, and then everything goes haywire for a time. I don’t want to put a date on it.

“In all my years working I’ve never really thought about giving up the job, and I can honestly say I’ve never had that moment of ‘I’ve had enough, I’m off’.

“So long as I feel good and my health’s good, then I’ll keep going.”


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Simmo
Simmo
12 days ago

Uplifting article ! A slice of ‘public transport meets Swansea Town’ nostalgia. Good stuff 🙂

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