Engineering Excellence Embodied – Glen Kelly’s Skills Challenge Success

Glen Kelly has proven himself one of the rising stars of Metroline’s Engineering team following his exceptional success at the IRTE Skills Challenge. A Coachmaker Based at CELF, Glen won best Bodywork Technician at the 2023 skills challenge, proving himself against engineers from different operators across the country and beyond.

The IRTE Skills Challenge is an annual competition taking place in Bristol for talented engineers in the Bus and Coach sectors. Over 35 teams of engineers from around the world take part and engage in a range of challenges to establish the best of the best.

Glen was challenged with numerous tasks designed to test the entrants to their full ability, including masking a car to demonstrate masking and painting preparation, and fixing a dented vehicle wing utilising skills such as filling and spraying and fiberglass identification. Glen also had to demonstrate welding, panel making and spraying followed by a written paper.

Despite the challenges, Glen did not feel the pressure, “Welding, spraying and panel making – multiple tasks into one thing. That’s what I enjoyed the most,” Glen recalled. “I thrive on taking stuff apart and then putting it back together. That’s what gives me a sense of achievement, gives me joy.”

Glen joined Metroline 2 years ago, the culmination of an apprenticeship and work with both light and heavy-duty vehicles over 5 years. On his decision to join, Glen recalls, “I thought let me try something else, and then I came here… I think I’ve found my niche.” For Glen, working with buses is continuing the family tradition – he follows in the footsteps of his father who was an engineer, and his grandfather who worked as a Bus Driver, “The old man was happy, he was chuffed to bits, my mum was proud as well – you never expect to win’ says Glen.

Most days Glen can be found in CELF making panels and keeping a watchful eye over his apprentice as he trains the next generation of coachmakers. He is always keen to remind his apprentice to ask for help and tells them, “Be proud of your work. Always do something to the book, and always make it look the best that you can because it represents the way you work as a person, and it represents you as a whole. My advice would be if you come in, go for it, don’t be afraid and always do your best. You can’t go wrong by doing your best can you?”

Campaign to Support and Retain Women in the Bus Industry

Metroline is taking part in the nationwide Women in Bus and Coach initiative, launched to create a national network that encourages, represents, supports and retains women and is backed by Transport for London. Despite progress made in hiring women into bus and coach, women still only make up 10% of employees in our industry. At an inaugural meeting in 2023, women from Bus operators across London were invited to an event where senior figures from each participating company made a commitment to taking steps to improving the industry for women.

In November, a Parliamentary event took place to celebrate the launch of the initiative, attended by bus and coach industry representatives alongside MPs from all sides of the political spectrum. Speakers at the event reaffirmed the need to ensure a continuous focus on issues surrounding support and retention of women in the industry and to stop women from being pushed to the background.

There was a particular emphasis on facilities, menopause, mental health, flexibility in working times and how women can be better attracted to the industry. Metroline has already started taking positive steps, launching a survey for female employees and trialing free sanitary products in female bathrooms at pilot sites across the business. Work has also begun on a recruitment campaign aimed at engaging women who are thinking of joining the industry and dispelling myths by speaking to women from across Metroline.

Deputy Head of Transport Safety Anna Tkaczyk, who is leading the Women in Bus and Coach project for Metroline, said: “This is a significant step towards improving gender equality and inclusivity across the whole industry, and I’m pleased to say that Metroline is taking a proactive role. As a woman who has been in the bus industry for over a decade, it has not always been an easy ride, and it’s encouraging to see that action is being taken to help to create a better working experience for women.”

Deputy Head of Transport Safety Anna Tkaczyk represented Metroline at the Parliamentary Event

 

2023: A year of Electrifying Progress for Metroline

Having paved the way for zero emissions with 2 electrified garages, the first double deck electric buses in London and end-to-end electric routes, this year saw the electrification of Edgware and the commencement of works at Willesden Junction. With Cricklewood and Perivale set to follow in the near future, landmark electric vehicle orders from Volvo, and the launch of London’s 1000th Electric Vehicle on a Metroline route, 2023 was a big year for electrification at Metroline.

 

The road to electrification at Edgware was a challenging one, but the power was finally switched on in April, with 28 chargers standing ready to power Edgware’s new fleet of electric buses, made up of the familiar Enviro400EVs which have already proven themselves at Holloway, as well as the Wright StreetDeck Electroliner. The Route 142 between Brent Cross and Watford was the first electric route from Edgware on the road, followed by the Route 204 several months later.

 

At Willesden Junction, the installation of infrastructure for use of electric vehicles is progressing with the first 12 chargers in place, and work planned to connect the main power grid to the transformers in the near future. Once works are complete in the first few months of 2024, Willesden Junction will see a number electric routes operating from the garage, with vehicles already beginning to arrive.

 

Elsewhere, improvements are being made to existing garages, with new chargers for Potters Bar for the new electric Route 384 buses activated this month, and future works to further improve capacity at both Potters Bar and Holloway set to take place next year. Finally works at Perivale and Cricklewood are set to begin next year, bringing the number of electric garages to 6 by the end of 2024.

 

With 164 electric buses in the fleet and counting, Metroline is fast becoming the operator of choice for electric and zero-emissions vehicles. 2024 is set to bring even more milestones for Metroline in bringing greener travel to our customers.

 

Find out more about Sustainability at Metroline.

A New Bus Garage for Brentford

A render of the large, new Brentford garage building.
A render of the new Brentford garage.

Since 2004 Brentford Bus Garage has been a key part of Metroline, being the launchpad for buses serving Central London via Hammersmith as well as Heathrow, Hounslow. The aging site dating back to the 1960s has long been in need of modernisation to meet the demands of London’s modern bus network.

 

In 2022, that modernisation commenced with an ambitious project to build a brand new bus garage fit for the 21st century whilst maintaining operation of bus services at a temporary site next door. The significance of the project is not lost on Alix Butler, Zero Emission Transformation Manager, who also oversaw the electrification of Edgware and Willesden Junction Garages. “This project has been on the table for 10 years,” Alix notes. “There’s a huge residential and commercial drive in the Brentford Lock West area, and we want our transportation services to complement this growth.”

 

Despite the logistical obstacles that such a project entails, Alix had nothing but praise for the Brentford Garage team who rose to the challenge during the move to the temporary facilities; “Moving over to the temporary site wasn’t easy. It’s the team behind us, the operations team, the engineering team, and the drivers have done a great job in keeping it all running. They’ve worked together and really brought this to life.”

 

The new Brentford Garage is set to be a fantastic place to work, poised to house over 100 vehicles, and seven routes, including the iconic Route 9 from January—a direct link to Central London. This continued investment in infrastructure is part of our ongoing commitment to both our people, passengers and the local community that we serve.

Forging future Engineers with Metroline’s award-winning apprenticeships

Wayne Ellis (centre) and the latest group of Apprentices.

Metroline is home to one of the largest and most successful engineering apprenticeship schemes in London, with apprentices going on to become Master Technicians and even Engineering Managers. It’s a success story that it is hoped to be replicated in other areas such as IT and administration.

The engineering apprenticeship is a five-year program that leads to a Level 3 NVQ qualification in bus and coach engineering. Wayne Ellis, Metroline’s Training and Development Manager oversees the scheme and the future plans for it, “I oversee apprenticeships across the business. We’re expanding into various fields, not just engineering. My role ensures our apprenticeship programs run smoothly, supporting managers and apprentices throughout.”

Metroline’s college partnerships are pivotal. “Most colleges offer some bus and coach apprenticeships, but it’s a niche. We work with Total People and have recently finalised a partnership with Uxbridge College,” Wayne revealed.

The rigorous training process puts apprentices at the fast-moving centre of Metroline’s day-to-day engineering activity. This gives them the skills and experience they need to keep London moving, and puts them in the company of the best in the country early in their careers. A recent example of engineering excellence created by the apprenticeship scheme was seen at this year’s IRTE Skills Challenge in Birmingham. “Our apprentices and technicians face practical scenarios, online tests, and theoretical assessments. Joe David a former apprentice, clinched victory this year, showcasing our program’s success,” Wayne proudly stated.

Fifth year apprentice Ashley Foster shares the positive impact the scheme has had on him: “It’s a great experience. You meet a lot of people in different garages and work with all sorts of people. It is great for developing people’s skills. For somebody that is considering an apprenticeship here, I’d say go for it. Once you’re open to learning, you’ll enjoy it.”

Metroline is committed to shaping the future, and the apprenticeship scheme plays a crucial role.

 

 

Mayor Sadiq Khan Launches London’s 1000 Electric Bus At Edgware Garage

(Left to Right) Metroline CEO Sean O’Shea, Senior Supervisor Burhan Uddin, Service Controller Peter Gipson, Driver Raluca Tilihoi, Garage Manager Leroy Webley, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Operations Manager Lukasz Kopczynski, Deputy Head of Transport Anna Tkaczy, Allocation Officer Judy Cox, Engineering Manager Sean Ives
(Left to Right) Metroline CEO Sean O’Shea, Senior Supervisor Burhan Uddin, Service Controller Peter Gipson, Driver Raluca Tilihoi, Garage Manager Leroy Webley, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Operations Manager Lukasz Kopczynski, Deputy Head of Transport Anna Tkaczy, Allocation Officer Judy Cox, Engineering Manager Sean Ives

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan visited Edgware Garage earlier to celebrate London’s 1000th Electric Bus.

He met with CEO Sean O’Shea, Garage Manager Leroy Webley and the Edgware Team and was shown around the specially wrapped 1000th bus by London Bus Awards nominee Raluca Tilihoi. Speaking about the success of electric buses, the Mayor said, “London has a world-class public transport network and our zero emission bus fleet is setting the standard for others to follow.”

Before the event started, Driver Tilihoi commented on how nervous she was having to demonstrate the bus for the Mayor, TV camera crews and almost 50 journalists, saying, “it’s really a bit nerve wracking, but I’m ready.” However, our driver did a cracking job and it was clear that all of the invited guests had a great time.

Sean O’Shea, CEO, Metroline, said: “The 1000th electric bus is a significant milestone in the decarbonisation of London and the bus network. Metroline is proud to operate more than 100 electric vehicles across a number of routes with more to follow, transporting tens of thousands of Londoners each day on zero emission vehicles.”

A special thanks and well done to the Edgware team for their hard work in getting the garage ready for the visit.

Route 607 to be renumbered to SL8

  • The SL8 will be the first bus route to become part of the proposed Superloop express bus network
  • Buses on the route, which is currently route 607, will call at the same stops as now, but some bus stop names will change to better reflect their locations
  • Timetable will be extended to provide more early morning and evening services from 19 August

Route 607 between Uxbridge and White City will be renumbered SL8 and rebranded into to become the first part of the proposed Superloop tomorrow (Saturday 15 July) to offer customers an instantly recognisable express bus service in west London.
The timetable for SL8 will be extended to provide more early morning and evening buses from 19 August. Other improvements, including improved customer information and USB charging, will also follow.

Buses on the route will call at the same stops as now, but some of the bus stop names will change to better reflect their locations, such as The Grapes, which will become Hayes / The Grapes.

Louise Cheeseman, Director of Buses at TfL said: “The newly numbered and branded SL8 will provide people in outer London an instantly recognisable express bus route helping to make it easier to choose a sustainable travel option. I urge customers who are used to seeing the 607 to give the SL8 a try.”

Sean O’Shea, CEO at Metroline said: “Metroline is delighted to be the first Bus company in London to operate one of the new Superloop services. This launch marks a milestone in further improving transport links in outer London and our team at Greenford Garage are proud to play their part delivering route SL8 of the Superloop.”

TfL is working to ensure customers are informed of the changes, with branded posters and timetables being placed at bus stops and bus stations plus updated spider maps. Regular users of the routes have received two emails ahead of the changes taking place.

For more information about the proposed Superloop express bus network, please visit https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/how-we-work/planning-for-the-future/outer-london-transport#on-this-page-1

Awards success for Metroline at the London Bus Awards 2023

It was a successful night for Metroline at the London Bus Awards 2023, hosted by Transport for London, with 6 shortlisted nominees across 5 categories, and 1 winner at the end of the night. Congratulations to David Gharu from Uxbridge Garage on winning the Award for Actions above and beyond the call of duty , and a special well done to all Metroline nominees who were shortlisted finalists: Chuyen Chan and Wolfang Chindamo (Outstanding Customer Service), Ancuta-Raluca Tilihoi (Outstanding Newcomer), Mehmet Boluk (Accessibility Champion) and the Willesden Junction Garage team (Best Vehicle Care).

David Gharu is one of Uxbridge garage’s most respected drivers, and no stranger to going above and beyond to ensure the best service for customers. Since 2006, Mr Gharu has demonstrated exemplary service, receiving a 100% score on multiple BCES assessments.

This commitment to service also extends to situations where people are in need. This was the case on one October night in 2022, where Mr Gharu witnessed a young woman in a vulnerable situation and made the split second decision to do what he could as a bus driver to help.

A witness said “My mate was on the bus around 11:30pm, when the driver noticed a car trying to call a young woman at the bus stop into the car, the woman looked scared outside and the bus driver told the women to get on the bus so she was safe making sure she went somewhere with loads of lights. My friend was really amazed with how this bus driver reacted to this situation. Anything could have happened to this woman if this bus driver didn’t help this young woman with his quick thinking and kind helpfulness, he then drove the woman into town so she was somewhere well lit, this driver was absolutely amazing and I think he deserves praise. I personally believe this driver was really amazing.”

This would not be the last time Mr Gharu would go above and beyond. One night in May 2023, he would assist an off-duty Police officer in helping a wheelchair user in need.

The Police Officer recalled “…a wheelchair-man boarded. I noticed that he had no shoes on and one foot was bandaged. As the bus continued its route, I noticed that the wheelchair-bound man’s foot had begun to bleed onto the floor. I engaged with the man, who was clearly drunk, as I was concerned for his health. I then asked the bus driver , Mr Gharu, to stop at the Hillingdon Hospital stop, as I believed the man needed to go to hospital. When Mr Gharu got out from his seat to see what I was talking about, the man left a streak of blood on the floor, alarming us both. Mr Gharu then demonstrated a clear understanding of what he could do to help, making contact with his control to request an ambulance… I then decided to get some first aid supplies from the nearby hospital and was completely confident that I could leave the bleeding man under Mr Gharu’s supervision while I was away. Mr Gharu then demonstrated great problem-solving by contacting a colleague who spoke Polish to help facilitate communication with the man… London Ambulance Service attended and took over, after which I departed… He is extremely reliable and his composure in such an unexpected incident is something to be greatly proud of.”

Speaking about Mr Gharu, Garage Manager Stavros Heracleous said, “Very proud of David’s superb actions. A true gentleman who didn’t hesitate to intervene in this incident, which had a positive impact.”

Congratulations again to Mr Gharu and well done to the other nominees.

 

 

Putting the Me in Metroline

We love our drivers so much we’ll be featuring them on our new recruitment campaign, highlighting the benefits of working for Metroline!

Whether you are looking for a job that lets you save up for a house, has the flexibility to let you look after the kids, or just aren’t ready to retire yet, becoming a Bus Driver with Metroline can work for you.

You can earn up to £36,000 in your first year, work flexible shifts, take advantage of part-time and overtime opportunities, and gain access to range of benefits including free Bus and Tube travel for you and one other as well receiving access to the largest employee discount scheme in the world.

Find out more by checking out our Driver Recruitment Page here: https://www.metroline.co.uk/recruitment/drivers/

Upcoming February Recruitment Open Days announced!

Interested in driving for Metroline? We have a host of Recruitment open day events coming to several Bus Garages in February! This is a great opportunity to find out what it takes to be a London bus driver, and to ask our drivers and trainers what to expect.

Find out the dates at our Recruitment Open Days page here.

For Fast-Track progression, please have your Valid Passport, Valid UK driving licence and National insurance number available on the day.

Benefits of working at Metroline include:

  • Paid training to get your PCV licence worth over £6k
  • Salary starting from £13.88 per hour depending on your shift pattern and pro-rata for part time hours
  • Current PCV license holders could start on £17.22 per hour depending on experience
  • Company Pension
  • Free Bus and Tube travel for you and one other*
  • Health & Wellbeing Programme
  • Childcare Vouchers
  • Opportunities for overtime
  • Full time and part time opportunities available
  • Employee Benefit Scheme
  • 24 hour Employee support line
  • Cycle2Work scheme
  • Free Uniform
  • Company Sick Pay Scheme

* free travel pass is provided by TfL and is subject to terms and conditions

Celebrating excellence at the UK Bus Awards

Bravo to team Metroline for a great evening at the UK Bus Awards! Congratulations to Wolfgang Chindamo on winning the silver prize in the Luke Rees-Pulley Award for Top London Bus Driver, and well done to Kolawole Obasa on receiving a Special Commendation for Outstanding Service in the Unsung Heroes category.

Wolfgang Chindamo is one of Metroline’s best drivers for customer service. Wolfgang started with the company on 12th May 2003 following a career in hospitality. Bringing with him his excellent customer service skills, in the nearly 20 years since he started, Wolfgang has consistently maintained a very good ethos toward the role and more specifically his customers. One customer who travelled on Wolfgang’s bus wrote: “You [sic] driver was first class smiling, polite and happy. Kept all passengers informed of any delays and was willing to answer any questions. Especially on a Sunday as services are limited. So refreshing to see and hear one passenger say what time he was returning back so she could get back on his bus and so many people say thanks and waving bye. Says so much about this driver his manner [sic] is exceptional.”

Kolawole ‘Kola’ Obasa is an exemplary employee and a supervisor that is known for his politeness and professionalism. Kola started his career at Metroline in a passenger facing role as a customer assistant on the iconic New Routemaster Buses in 2013 before transferring his excellent customer service skills to the Garage Administration Supervisor role at Kings Cross garage. Kola has a reputation among his colleagues as a great team player with excellent timekeeping and attendance record. He goes the extra mile to promote, support and ensure the administration of the garage is carried out timely and efficiently. He will always give 100% regardless of recognition and takes real pride in everything he does at all times. He is always willing to help on both sides of the counter and is someone his colleagues, drivers and management can rely on.

Also nominated for Top London Bus Driver at the UK Bus Awards were Aliya Aleskerova and Porpin ‘Poppy’ Owusu, both from Greenford garage.

Aliya Aleskerova is one of best and brightest Bus drivers of Metroline’s  Greenford Garage. Starting at the garage in 2013, Aliya quickly joined the route 282 after completing her training, and has remained there ever since. Aliya is well known for her extremely positive attitude towards to her work and to her route 282 passengers. She enjoys interacting with many of the passengers on a personal basis; a rapport, that has been built over the years through exceptional customer service. As a result, she has come to know many of the regular passengers who use her bus, many of whom have been responsible for the praise she has received over the years.

Poppy Owusu is a much-loved driver at Metroline’s Greenford garage, known as much for her excellent customer service as she is for commendable driving skills. Joining Metroline as a new driver in 2013 following a 14 year role in the food hall of a world-renowned store in Knightsbridge in central London, it didn’t take long for her to take to the job, as she brought with her the excellent customer service skills she had learnt in her previous role. When Poppy transitioned to bus driving the role was easy, and she was able to utilise those customers skills with her bus passengers.

Finally, Metroline’s Uxbridge garage was nominated for Top London Bus Garage. Uxbridge is Metroline’s jewel in the crown for outstanding performance, top of many TfL and internal league tables and the garage of choice for many new staff who look forward to working here. We are the main operator in the Uxbridge area and deliver services to a much wider area.

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Metroline employees Wear It Pink for charity

On October 21 2022, garages across Metroline took part in WearItPink day to help raise money for Breast Cancer Now and fund vital research and care that will help those affected by breast cancer. Local depots held bake sales and sold sweets to raise money and we even had a pink bus travelling between garages!

In total, a fantastic £2,200.88 was raised for essential Breast Cancer research and care. Well done to all of our Metroline colleagues who raised a brilliant amount for an important cause.