Published on: July 29, 2016 | Last Updated: August 4, 2016 10:26 AM MDT

When Fred Lewington, 70, started driving buses for Southland Transportation one June, he recalls thinking he might keep at it “until Christmas time.”

That was 20 years ago.

Since then Lewington has driven hundreds of children to school, and scores of people on charter buses. He’s had a great time travelling those many kilometres and highly recommends bus driving to people looking for a fun and flexible career.

“The variety of work available is great,” says Lewington, adding the people he’s met, especially the schoolchildren, have been outstanding as well.

“I’ve watched kids grow up in front of me,” he says, including a boy named Trevor who “got on my bus in kindergarten, and got off for the last time when he graduated high school.”

Lewington has even been invited to graduation ceremonies for some of his student passengers.

Sue Wold is only a year into making memories in her job as a school bus driver but loves it already. Wold, 52, says it was her granddaughter who brought up the idea after seeing a Southland advertisement.

The motto at Southland Transportation is Safely Home, reinforcing the importance of the passengers they transport.

The motto at Southland Transportation is Safely Home, reinforcing the importance of the passengers they transport. SOUTHLAND TRANSPORTATION LTD.

The free training program provided by the company was excellent, she says, adding that she was a bit nervous on her first day, but everyone at the company was very supportive and things went well. Since then, Wold has loved the experience and the children she’s met, from high school teens on her regular route to the young children on buses she drives when filling in for other drivers.

Southland regional director Murray Glass says a career as a bus driver can be a great fit for many people. Driving a school bus usually takes a couple hours each morning and afternoon. The driver has the middle of the day free, along with evenings, weekends, school holidays and all of July and August.

Some drivers are entrepreneurs with start-ups who drive buses to earn extra money while developing their business. Others work from home and can supplement their regular income driving each school day.

Glass says they have retiree drivers who enjoy the chance to get out and meet people each day. Other prime candidates are stay-at-home parents, since drivers are allowed to bring up to two of their preschool-aged children on the bus.

While a school bus schedule works for many people, Glass says Southland also has additional work available driving chartered buses midday, on weekends and during July and August.

Applicants must have a valid Class 5 (non-graduated) driver’s license, four or fewer demerit points, and be able to pass a criminal record check. Job perks include free Class 2 training, recognition programs such as the Safe Driving and Long Service Award banquets and the opportunity for career advancement.

“Pretty much everybody in a supervisory, management or clerical role at Southland started as a school bus driver and worked their way up in the company,” says Glass.

He adds there is also the satisfaction of a job well done in the incredibly important role of getting people’s children to and from school safe and sound. Southland’s motto is Safely Home, and Glass says that is reflected in everyone from the bus drivers to the company’s bus maintenance workers to all the support staff.

Everyone helps each other do their job to the highest level, a long-standing tradition at the family-owned and operated company based in Calgary.

Click here for more information on becoming a bus driver.

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Southland Transportation Ltd.