AFTER three million kilometres and becoming the longest-serving bus driver at Busabout, Wagga man Donald Heffernan will soon see the chequered flag in his career.
The 70-year-old is set to retire on December 20 after being in the role at the company for 46 years.
Mr Heffernan said his endurance, which involves driving up to 250km a day, was helped by his love of helping children get to school.
"I love kids. You've got to like students, otherwise you wouldn't last very long," he said.
"Respect them and they respect you."
Mr Heffernan drove Bedford trucks on the farm and coaches during alpine tours before he fell into his current role.
"I left school and then I was called up in the army for national service and served overseas for 12 months," he said.
"I came back and went back onto the farm with my father.
"The farmers in the community came together and said 'well, you can drive the bus'.
"So I went for a test drive with the boss on a Friday and he said 'you got the job, you start Monday'."
Mr Heffernan, who was born in Dubbo and grew up in Walla Walla, recalls the early days when he drove "old petrol wooden-body buses".
"Back in those days, I only ever had a demister and we never had floor heating," he said.
"If you broke down, you had to go to the nearest farmhouse or house in town and asked them if you could use their phone to call the depot.
"Now they've got air conditioning, floor heating and communication. Two-way radio and that sort of thing."
As for challenges, Mr Heffernan said there weren't too many, but the introduction of ticket machines was one.
On the flip side, he said highlights included each time he got a new bus and when the depot moved from Berry Street to Hammond Avenue.
"It was like moving from a tennis court to a football field," Mr Heffernan said.
I went for a test drive with the boss on a Friday and he said 'you got the job, you start Monday'.Donald Heffernan
In thanking Mr Heffernan for his dedication, depot manager Shaun Williams said it was "remarkable nowadays that anyone can spend 46 years in any industry".
"Not only that, but with the same company," Mr Williams said.
"We can't congratulate him enough. We really appreciate his dedication to the company and obviously to the public of Wagga.
"He's transported students who've become parents, so we've probably seen two or three generations."
"It's a fantastic achievement."
The company will hold a farewell dinner for staff to mark Mr Heffernan's retirement and to celebrate his achievements.
Asked about what he hopes to be remembered by, he said it was his clean driving record.
"If anyone wants a bit of advice about how to drive, come and see me," he said.