Being on the buses was “in the blood” of long-serving Stagecoach employee marking 35 years’ service

A bus driver celebrating 35 years service with Stagecoach has admitted that family connections mean the job was simply in her blood.

Janine Merchant, from Barrow, said: “My dad was a bus driver for more than 35 years, and my mum was his clippy (conductor). It’s how they met.

“They say it’s in your blood, and for me it really was.”

Janine is one of 36 Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire employees being honoured in  a special ceremony on Friday [22/03] at Low Wood Bay Resort and Spa, in Windermere.

The event acknowledged the long service of 29 current and seven retired employees – who between them boast 985 years of combined service with the company.

Janine, 54, marked her milestone in October last year, and officially retired from her role as a bus driver on March 18.

She has always worked from the same depot, and has built up a relationship with customers of all ages.

Janine said: “I am now taking people’s grandkids, and people in the depot often say to me that I used to take them to school. It certainly makes me feel old.

“I’m a proper people person though, and I love meeting people. I can have a real laugh with my passengers.

“A lot of them have passed away, and I’ve gotten to know their wives or husbands and supported them. It’s an entire little community.”

Janine remains one of fewer than 10 female bus drivers working from the Barrow depot, but admits she has only ever seen herself as “one of the lads”.

STAGECOACH LONG SERVICE AWARDS 2024 — Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire hold their annual long service awards event at Low Wood Bay, Windermere. Award recipients are presented with their long service award by Managing Director Tom Waterhouse (right). Friday 22nd March 2024. PHOTOGRAPHY: HARRY ATKINSON

Unfortunately a bad back has prompted Janine’s early retirement, but she doesn’t regret a second.

“I’ve seen so many changes,” she said. “I was one of 19 drivers to work through Covid and all that came with it.

“I’ve seen more and more vehicles take to the road, and seen things become more digital.

“I have also met so many brilliant people.

“I have loved working for Stagecoach: they look after their staff, and that’s only got better as the years have passed.”

To mark her last day as a driver, Janine’s husband and children came on board to travel the route with her, one final time.

Tom Waterhouse, Managing Director of Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire said: “Congratulations to Janine and to everyone who received their long service awards this year. It’s amazing to see just how much experience we have at Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire. I’d like to extend my personal thanks to all 36 amazing members of staff for all their hard work and dedication to both the company and to our customers over the years.”

STAGECOACH LONG SERVICE AWARDS 2024 — Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire hold their annual long service awards event at Low Wood Bay, Windermere. Award recipients are presented with their long service award by Managing Director Tom Waterhouse (right). Friday 22nd March 2024. PHOTOGRAPHY: HARRY ATKINSON

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