Last drive for Bus Idol John

John Callaghan. Bus driver for 40 years.'w3859a048
John Callaghan. Bus driver for 40 years.'w3859a048

FOR more than 40 years John Callaghan has provided a warm smile and reassuring chat for commuters travelling across the city.

But when he lets passengers off his Arriva bus at 10.30am today it will be for the last time.

The veteran driver is retiring after a long career which has seen him complete the same 217 Overton to Leeds route for 19 years.

Mr Callaghan, 65, of Outwood said he will miss the passengers the most as he is on first name terms with many and some even sent him Christmas presents.

The former Bus Idol winner said: “It has been an enjoyable career and I would not have wanted to do anything else.

“When I first moved to the area the only road I knew was the one from Hemsworth to Wakefield.

“Meeting people is the best part of the job and by doing the same route for so long I have got to know lots of families from the Overton, Netherton and Horbury area.

“The only thing I will not miss is having to get up on the cold dark winter mornings.”

Mr Callaghan was a builder in his home country of Scotland and only became a bus conductor when he failed to get a construction job when he moved to the city.

Within four years he qualified as a driver and has been transporting residents ever since.

He was also secretary of the company’s sports and social club and ran the staff canteen for 21 years.

Mr said his proudest moments where when he won the Bus Idol competition in 2005, and the Dennis Ellis Award later that year.

The granddad-of-three celebrated 40 years on the buses in December and said he has mixed feelings about today.

He added: “I guess it is just another day, but after working for 50 years I need a rest.”