Anja Wings is still relatively new to the mobility industry. The career changer has been a full-time bus driver at Transdev Niedersachsen / Westfalen GmbH in Germany since summer 2019, where she works for the MittelWeserBus brand at the Stolzenau depot. The 55-year-old mother of five loves her job and we sat down with Anja to learn more about her.
She already knows today that she would like to work as a bus driver at least until retirement age – if not beyond. The experienced do-it-yourselfer knows what to do, she loves gardening and sewing. Her motto in life “If you think it doesn’t work anymore, a little light will come from somewhere” has already brought her through many crises.
Anja, how did you end up working for MittelWeserBus?
I had previously received unemployment benefits and was in close contact with the local job center as a “top-up”. The clerk informed me last year that they were looking for drivers for the MittelWeserBus. Since I’m from the area, Transdev and the MittelWeserBus were already known to me. The opportunity to become a bus driver was an absolute ray of hope. I was immediately interested and took part in an evening to get to know each other. After that, I was convinced of this job and decided to train as a bus driver.
What did you have to do for it?
I took a ten-week course to get a bus driver’s license. That means theory lessons and a lot of practical driver training. I then did a six-week internship in the company. In my case, the costs for the bus driver’s license were even covered by the job center. After passing the exam, I finally had a full-time position again and am very grateful for that.
What makes the job so interesting to you?
I’m a passionate driver and I even thought about becoming a driving instructor. So, the chance to finally drive professionally came in handy. I enjoy traveling by bus and being in contact with passengers, for us these are mostly students.
What does your typical day-to-day work look like?
My working day starts at 4 a.m. Then I drive to the company, take the vehicle key, the logbook and the schedule, and take them to the bus. Then I prepare the bus, check again whether everything is clean and is disinfected. And then I take it out in service, because the students must be in class on time. I mainly have primary school students on the bus, so it can get a bit loud. Every now and then I have to say something. That can be stressful. But when the children greet me with “Good morning Anja”, you know again why you enjoy your job so much. It’s nice when you get so much respect. On my breaks, I talk to my colleagues. Exchanging experiences is important and useful when there is another diversion.
What three qualities do you need for this job?
Customer friendliness: From my point of view, you should enjoy working with people. Since I am sociable by nature, I do not find it difficult to contact customers.
Sense of responsibility: The job requires a lot of attention, both when driving and in the classic boarding and alighting situations at bus stops – especially in school traffic.
Ability to deal with conflicts: There are also difficult situations with passengers, because there are usually many different people on the bus. But I have not fallen on my mouth and can handle it.
Family, home, job – how do you bring them together?
It all works out very well for me. I have five children, but two are already on their own and no longer live with me. My other three children are all very independent at 17, 20 and 22 years old. Even with a 40-hour week, there is still time to pursue my hobbies and to devote myself to the family.
A woman in the male dominated profession, do you hear that often?
Thank goodness seldom. I feel very well integrated and accepted in the team. In Stolzenau I have six female colleagues who also drive buses. That works fine. However, I can also imagine that many women shy away from moving these large vehicles, because unfortunately there are still prejudices about women behind the wheel. It is also a big task to be responsible for so many people – especially children. In any case, in my private life, the reactions to my new job have been very positive. Most of them even said: “Well, that fits perfectly, you’ve been so fond of driving all your life.” I was very happy about this great feedback and the encouragement.
How do you imagine your future in the company?
Before I came to MittelWeserBus, I worked in many different jobs and went through ups and downs. I have now fully arrived in this job and here in the company in Stolzenau. I like coming to work.
I’ve only been there for a year, but I already know that I’d like to drive the bus until I retire.