Sunday, November 18, 2007

How a kid grew up to drive his old schoolbus

This column has appeared in The Redland Times, Cleveland, Redland Shire, Queensland, Australia.
MOST kids can only dream about climbing behind the wheel and taking control of the marvellously dependable vehicle that ensures they have the chance of a good education.
But Jason Healey has a place in bayside history as the Redlands schoolkid who grew up to drive the same Redlands Transport schoolbus that took him to school each morning and brought him home in the afternoon.
It was a memorable day when the former Mt Cotton State Primary School pupil realised just about every little boy’s dream.
There he was at last – not only in the driver’s seat but also with reporters taking notes and television cameras "rolling".

JASON says he was 19 years old in 1991 when he was declared as Queensland’s youngest bus driver and worked on the same school service he had used as a child. In 1999, he drove the same bus on another route.
Now aged 36, Jason is still one of the "babies" in the army that operates the main Redlands service under the Veolia banner as part of the State Government’s TransLink system.
"Only two drivers are younger than me and they are both in their thirties – the majority of drivers are in their fifties," Jason says.
Jason doesn’t cop much cheek from his seniors, however, because he is now the operations supervisor at the company’s Capalaba depot, presiding over a fleet of 130 buses, each clocking an average 2500-3000 kilometres a week.
The logistics of putting at least 120 buses a day on their routes – including new services to the shire’s boom southern areas including Victoria Point, Redland Bay and Point Talburpin – are behind Veolia’s current recruitment campaign in our classifieds.

NOW with about 150 drivers, the depot needs at least 20 more, Jason says. The need is so great he will even promise successful applicants the chance to pilot the depot’s 10 new $450,000 Mercedes buses, delivered in October.
That’s a far cry from the old 1979 Bedford Jason that took Jason to school.
We hear a lot about the ‘ageing’ of society but bus driving must be at the forefront and at this stage Jason certainly has no challengers for his special place in history.
He says anyone, regardless of age, may apply if they can get a minimum MR-class licence and Queensland Transport driver’s authority and to meet Veolia’s high standards may apply.
By the way, Jason grew up at Sheldon and now lives at Redland Bay.

THANKS for joining me to meet the people in the marvellous community of classified advertising.

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