|Interviews with the Winners in the National Contest for ‘Best Driver of the Year’
The Top Winner: Angel Milanov from Union Ivkoni
He is twenty nine years old, married, and the father of two little girls. He was born in the town of Dimitrovgrad where he used to be enrolled in a music class in high school. His love for motor vehicles caused him to become a professional driver. His first chance to work as a bus driver on an international bus line was given to him by Mrs. Nelly Georgieva from the bus company Metro Sofia. At that time, he was the youngest driver in the company, and the decision to employ him carried with it great risks. But by his work Angel successfully proved that he deserved the trust of his employer.
Congratulations for the victory! Did you expect it?
Yes, I was confident in myself. Last year, I participated too, but I couldn’t win a place on the winners’ list, and I firmly decided that next year I would do my best to be a winner. And I did it. I’m content, and I’m very happy. My experience from last year showed me that despite the fact that what we had to do today was a part of our work, it’s impossible to win such a contest without preparation. I put the emphasis on the novelties, on the amendments in the laws and in the European requirements.
Do you think that the company which you represent is interested in improving the qualifications of the drivers and, if yes, in what ways?
Any of us wishing to improve and move forward is supported by the company. We have neither the time, nor the ability, to keep track of everything that’s new in our profession. Instead, this is done by the management of the company. They inform us regularly about any forthcoming courses designed to improve our qualification, and they also urge us and insist that we take part in them. As for those courses that are mandatory, the company supports us also financially.
Tell us a bit more about your direct work. What are your impressions regarding the place of bus transport? Does it have any future?
I’m a driver on the international bus line between Sofia and Lagosh, Portugal. We drive four times a week on this line. I myseld drive on the same line once a week, and I have direct impressions. I’ve been working for the Union Ivkoni company for three years now, and I’ve been working in international transport for a total of almost seven years now, and I don’t think that interest in bus transport has declined. There’s a sufficient number of passengers, but they ebb and tide. However, I don’t think the cause for that is what kind of transport they choose to use. Definitely, bus transport continues to be the most preferred kind of transport in my opinion.
What’s your opinion about this kind of contests?
I think, they are extremely useful, and I would like to urge my colleagues to participate. There are no grounds for fear. Isn’t it a part of our work anyway?
I want especially to thank Mr. Kiril Georgiev who employed me to work for the Ivkoni company. I want him to know that even though last year I promised him to win this contest, and I couldn’t, this year I dedicate this top award to him.
Vassil Chalakanov from Vakancia Ltd.
This is the first time that the company Vakancia has won a 2nd place in this prestigious contest. Congratulations! What is the cause for this success?
Thank you. It’s the first time in my life that I have taken part in a contest of this kind. On the one hand, this is due to the experience that I have, and, on the other hand, it’s due to the support I received from the company. Though I have been working for Vakanica only since recently, the management was quite confident that I should be the person to represent the company in this prestigious competition. I am content with my participation, and I hope that they are content as well.
How do you become a good bus driver?
I can say for myself that you need to love the job. I come from the city of Pazardjik, and I also live there. I graduated from a technical highschool specialized in building and construction. However, I also grew up with the buses. My father has been a bus driver for many years now, and I have always been near him. When I was very young, he used to take me with him, and when I grew up, I often helped him in the garage. So, I first finished the driver’s license course for a category B driver, then for category C, and finally for a bus driver. I’m 28 years old now, and I can say with confidence that this work is precisely for me. I love to travel and to work among other people. I drive on the regular bus line between Sofia and Valencia, and my job as driver on an international bus line satisfies me completely.
In the past few years, there were a number of severe road accidents with buses. What measure have been taken in your company to improve road safety?
Vakanicia is a company that looks on road safety with utmost seriousness and responsibility. In the first place, the technical condition of the buses is tracked regularly times. When the vehicles return from work, they are always inspected in order to check their condition, and if a problem is discovered, it’s immediately removed. In the second place, the schedule of the drivers is monitored very closely and strictly in order to make sure that it complies exactly with the requirements for the necessary pauses for rest. And last, but not least, all the colleagues a good and experienced drivers, and we, who are younger, have quite a few things to learn from them.
What would you wish to our magazine?
Frankly speaking, I don’t know a lot about the magazine, but this initiative of yours is wonderful. I think, it’s necessary and would be very useful if other companies would also take part in the contest with their own representatives. I’ll wish the magazine an increasing reading audience, and I’ll become its first new reader.
Georgi Boychev from Union Ivkoni
You were ranked 3rd in today’s contest. Are you satisfied with your performance?
Yes. I’m satisfied. I think, the ranking was fair in view of the demonstrated abilities. I was ranked 1st in driving, but this was not enough. I relied on the experience I had, and I did not prepare myself sufficiently for the test.
What is the attitude in your company toward the drivers?
There are many young people who work in our company. They are given good chances and opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities and to grow. When I first started working for the company, I was 21 years old, and I was treated with a lor of mistrust. Of course, it’s necessary to evaluate the qualities of a person. You have to pass a test to be employed, and afterwards your performance is tracked and the improvement of your qualities is continuously evaluated. Continuity is highly valued. We are in regular contact with our more experienced colleagues. We take, as they say, from the experience of the older drivers.
Currently, I drive on an international line, but I’ve also driven buses on domestic lines. And I’ve always strived to improve and become like the best. At present, I study Business Management, but I intend to remain in the bus sector in the future. I’ve been working here for about 5 years now, and I’ve learned a lot during these years. I know many people, and I intend to stay on a career path in this sector even after I’ve graduated.
Would you share with us some personal details about youself?
I’m not married yet. I have a girlfriend who’s a colleague from college. She was not here today during the competition because she had to attend lectures at college, but she supports me in all my endeavors.
Would you wish something to the Buses and Vans Magazine?
I congratulate the magazine team for the wonderful initiative they have undertaken together with the Bulgarian Road Transport Federation. Such a contest is very necessary and useful as has been demonstrated over the seven years it has taken place. I wish the magazine to keep going forward and to alsways be a source of information about everything that’s new and important in the bus sector. I would recommend you to use more advertisements and to inform from an earlier date the companies about the contest, so that there would be more participants and a stronger competition.