Sophia Lewis is a Bus Driver apprentice at Go-Ahead's Croydon Garage. Go-Ahead London was the first transport provider to offer in-house apprenticeships.
In this interview Sophia discusses her experience on the apprenticeship. She was guided through it by apprentice manager Caroline Welch, who is a leading woman in transport.
When did you first decide to pursue a career as a bus driver?
In the summer of 2019, I was a waitress in Battersea when I saw the Go-Ahead London Training Bus go past me, and thought, I could do that! I went home that night and told my mum I was going to apply for the training programme, and she laughed, she didn’t think I was serious.
I woke up early and went to the open day and it was overwhelmed with people, literally 100’s of people- it was a bit intimidating at first. But I got through to the interview and progressed until I had completed my theory and practical test on my first go! I was proud of that. I didn’t want to take the test before I was ready, but it took me 3 months to get confident behind the wheel of the bus.
When did you complete the Apprentice training? What was it like when you joined your garage?
In November of 2019 I joined the team at Croydon. It was a big shift moving from the Training Academy to the garage. For many people already at the garage there’s an established foundation so it’s a real journey to figure out how things work and get recognised by your peers.
What has it been like working during the Coronavirus pandemic?
Working during the pandemic has not been easy for any of us. I am appreciative to Go-Ahead London for doing all they can to make drivers safe like sealing the cabs, and I do my bit, I wear my face masks and gloves, I wipe down my cab. It can’t be easy trying to protect thousands of people.
What is your favourite route to drive?
I love my routes that I drive, Croydon is like a little town, a little village. I’m lucky, the team I work with are lovely and everyone knows everyone. My favourite route to drive is the 119 to Bromley North. It’s an intense route, you have to be alert all the time, it keeps you on your toes, whether it’s the people, the tight timing, the roads, the traffic, there’s a little bit of everything on that route.
Would you recommend the Apprenticeship Academy to someone who might be interested in being a Bus Driver?
I would recommend the Apprenticeship Academy to someone considering a role in public transport. I’ve even had a friend of mine apply!