The Transdev’s UK subsidiary the Keighley Bus Company’s veteran looks back with pride over miles of smiles
His favorite place is behind the wheel of Keighley’s buses – and now long-serving driver John Feather has reached a special milestone, after clocking up five decades on the roads of West Yorkshire.
68-year-old John, from Ingrow, was first inspired to become a busman when as a boy, he would make a beeline for his favorite seat right behind the driver on the old Keighley-West Yorkshire bus into town – and when the chance came in 1971 to join the company as a trainee conductor, John made sure he was first in the bus queue!
Two years later John was ready to take the wheel himself after passing through the company’s training school in Harrogate – and so began a career spanning five decades and taking in Yorkshire’s scenic delights close to home and further afield.
John said: “I never thought when I became a conductor in 1971 that I’d still be involved with buses 50 years later. It was the job I always wanted to do – buses were in my blood from an early age.
“I used to drive the Dales bus service up to Hawes on a Tuesday, and to Richmond on a Friday. One Friday morning, a 94-year-old gentleman got on at Keighley, very smartly turned out – he’d come from Thornton, near Bradford, having got up at 6am to make what he told me would probably be his last journey to the Dales.
It was a lovely sunny day, and I could see he enjoyed every second of the long trip up to Richmond, and a stroll around the town before the bus home. When we got back to Keighley, he pressed a five-pound note into my hand and thanked me for a beautiful day – moments like that stay with you for a lifetime.”
John retired from full-time bus driving in 2016, but still gets behind the wheel part-time at weekends for the town’s leading bus operator, The Keighley Bus Company. His favorite journey today is the popular Dalesway service, between Keighley and Skipton – in his own words: “the open fields and hills of the Yorkshire Dales rise up in front of you and there’s nothing finer anywhere”.
The Keighley Bus Company’s General Manager Alan Isherwood said: “John brings an amazing wealth of experience to our team, built over half a century of looking after customers. We are proud to have many long-serving colleagues, whose knowledge is highly valued by everyone in our company and adds greatly to our shared success.
“We’ll look forward to celebrating John’s great service to us and the people of Keighley and beyond as soon as we can, to say a big thank you on behalf of the many thousands of people who’ve enjoyed travelling with him over the years.”
Away from work, buses and beer are a big part of John’s free time – he looks after a vintage 1939 Bristol double decker which used to run in and around Keighley, taking it to rallies and shows before the pandemic – while since 1990 he’s been a volunteer at the Keighley and Worth Valley steam railway, indulging his other passion – supplying real ales for the on-train buffet bar!