Last night (12 January) was an evening to savour for Nottingham City Transport’s driver Safdar Ali, as he took home the coveted award of Driver of the Year at the operator’s annual ceremony held at Nottingham Playhouse.
Now in its 6th year, the award honours the hard work, dedication and exceptional customer service skills of NCT’s best drivers. Four drivers were shortlisted for the this year’s award, with Phil Wild, Safdar Ali, Thane Holton and Vincent Mastin all making the shortlist after winning Seasonal Awards throughout the year.
Winning driver Safdar works on NCT’s Orange Line 34 route between City and University Park and becomes the second 34 driver to be crowned Driver of the Year, after Phil Rowson won in 2014. Safdar started with Nottingham City Transport in 2000, clocking up nearly 17 years’ service, and attended last night with his wife and three children.
The four short-listed drivers were put under the spotlight, with assessments carried out by a mystery traveller on three separate occasions during December. Criteria for the assessment included the basics like setting the bus destination and ticket machine correctly, the welcome offered to customers, responses to questions, driving standards, helpfulness and willingness to assist where required. Drivers were also tested on the new NCT mobile ticketing app – launched by Nottingham City Transport in December to allow customers to purchase bus tickets direct from their mobile phone, reducing the need for cash or exact change when boarding the bus.
The maximum score achievable was 140 points, and Safdar scored a fantastic total of 135 (96.4%) – the highest ever achieved by any of NCT’s Driver of the Year winners to date!
Speaking about his award win, Safdar said “I am incredibly pleased to be crowned Driver of the Year for 2016 and I would like to say a big thank you to Nottingham City Transport for continuing to recognise its drivers in this way”.
Pantomime Dame, Widow Twankey, played by one of the country’s greatest Dames, John Elkington, crowned Safdar the winner. As a result of his award win, Safdar receives £1,000, an extra week’s holiday entitlement and an entry into the UK Bus Awards for the Top National Bus Driver in 2017.
Safdar received glowing praise from his mystery traveller, saying that he was “remarkable in every way” and that he “is a true credit to NCT and answered all the questions I threw at him with ease”. Further feedback mentioned that he “looks professional, is very polite and caring for the safety of all his passengers” and that he “greets everyone as they board, lets them sit down before pulling away and thanks everyone as they alight”.
Speaking about Safdar’s success, David Astill, Commercial Manager at Nottingham City Transport, said “The company would like to extend its sincere congratulations to Safdar on his Driver of the Year win and Safdar has certainly set the bar high for future nominees. His customer service is exemplary and a very worthy winner”