NCT Trolleybus Owning Bus Driver Drives New Electric Bus as Thanks from NCT at Retirement

3 months ago Mon 27th Nov 2023

Phil Howard in front of an electric double deck bus

Nottingham City Transport has wished Philip Howard a happy retirement, after he completed 37 years’ service with NCT, having started in February 1986.

He worked as a bus driver throughout his career at NCT, initially as a spare driver before moving onto the Bilborough and Aspley roster. Since 2010, Phil has worked the Bulwell roster on services 68/69 via Sherwood Rise.

Phil stated “There’s no doubt that the shift work is not easy, but there were many aspects to the job that are most enjoyable. In particular, NCT has always had a reputation for operating a modern state-of-the-art fleet, and I’ve always relished getting my hands on the latest buses and trying them out.” He went onto say “the last 37 years have really flashed by in what feels like 37 seconds.”

Phil and his partner Christine have been the proud owners of two former NCT buses. In 1991 they acquired an AEC Regent dating from 1954 which had started life with the former West Bridgford transport department. That operation was absorbed by NCT in 1968.

They was also the owners of a former Nottingham trolleybus – fleet no. 578 – dating from 1951. Phil was the keeper of this electrically powered bus for 47 years until donating it last year to the East Anglian Transport Museum, where members of the public can now ride on a Nottingham City Transport trolleybus under wires.

Phil’s trolleybus was displayed in Nottingham’s Old Market Square in September 1978 as part of NCTs centenary celebrations, and again in 2018 to commemorate the company’s 140th anniversary.

NCT 140th anniversary event with trolleybus

Although Phil retired in September this year, he was invited back last week by NCTs managing director David Astill to receive his retirement certificate and have a drive of the latest electric double decker that NCT currently has on trial. David explained “We wanted to recognise Philip’s 37 years of service to the company. He and his partner Christine have been very kind in donating their trolleybus to NCT on  two major occasions and we thought it only fitting that the last NCT bus he should drive should be a new electric one, enabling him to compare this latest technology with the old technology of the green & cream trolleybuses which served Nottingham so well until 1966, and with which Philip is so familiar.

Having driven the modern electric bus on the former trolleybus route between Queen Street and Sherwood Rise and Nottingham Road, Phil gave a glowing endorsement, stating  “the new electric bus is even better to drive that I imagined in terms of the quiet and smooth ride, but the manoeuvrability is also excellent. Of course, I’ve got to say it is nearly as good as a trolleybus!” He concluded “I always hoped that one day, electric buses would return to the NCT fleet, and I’m delighted that I’ve had the opportunity to drive one today, right at the very end of my career on the buses.”