Transdev 14042023

West Yorkshire busman Barry’s final stop on a journey full of memories

Friendly bus chief retires after 30 years with The Keighley Bus Company

West Yorkshire busman Barry Nichol can look back to countless happy memories throughout his 30 years with The Keighley Bus Company – a career journey that has now reached its final stop.

Barry, 65, has been an early riser for most of his 30 years with The Keighley Bus Company and its predecessors – and now he says the biggest adjustment he’ll have to make is not getting up in the early hours to make sure the first buses of the day set out on time!

Barry’s career on the buses began even earlier, back in October 1977 when he joined the former West Yorkshire PTE bus division as a conductor based at the then newly opened Bradford Interchange, where he soon retained as a bus driver.

Among Barry’s early bus memories are getting to grips with the PTE’s SaverStrips, card multi journey tickets which customers slotted into an electronic validator when boarding the bus. Barry says: “I remember having to set the calendar on the ticket validator manually every day – a long way from today’s computerised ticket machines.”

Bus deregulation in October 1986 brought big changes for Barry and all the PTE staff who transferred to a new arms-length company, Yorkshire Rider. By 1991 Barry was ready for a change and bought a local courier business. Barry jokes: “When I decided to do it, I thought it would be similar to buses in that it was only moving parcels instead of people!”

The tough business climate of the early 1990s led Barry to reconsider his future, and in 1993 he joined the team at what is now The Keighley Bus Company as a driver, working his way up to become duty manager. He spent seven years supervising the early departures from the depot before moving to become duty manager at Keighley Bus Station – then as COVID-19 arrived in 2020, Barry became permanent duty manager on the early shift, six days a week.

Barry says: “I’ve always been fine with early starts – I like to get in and start the day, and no two days are ever the same. We have a brilliant set of people on the early shift and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

“I love my job and was prepared to go on for a bit longer, but I’ve had a few health mishaps in the last 12 months and so I know this is the right time to bow out.”

As retirement beckons, Barry says he’s looking forward to family time, including with his two grandchildren – and of course, a lie in!

And as his Keighley colleagues bid him a fond farewell, Barry recalls this story from his early days of service on West Yorkshire’s buses.

Barry says: “One day when I was driving with the PTE in Bradford, I was turning on a roundabout at Wibsey when a car pulled out and clipped the side of my bus. Being sat high up I couldn’t see the car’s driver, so I got out and went to exchange names and addresses and to make sure he was all right.

“I was surprised to find the car driver was a vicar dressed in his full ceremonial robes – he was on his way to lead a funeral!

“Fortunately, there wasn’t much damage to the car, and so the Reverend made his departure on time!”