Dublin’s female bus drivers: People get on and say ‘my goodness it’s a kid driving the bus’

Dublin Bus is running a series of open days where attendees will meet current female drivers

Ever since she was a little girl, Manuela Todosi has always wanted to be a bus driver. She worked for another bus company but when she moved to Dublin from Romania five or six months ago, she immediately joined Dublin Bus.

“I’ve always wanted to be a bus driver because I love to drive and I love big cars,” she said of her motivation.

Her twin sister Julia is also a bus driver. And while it wasn’t a lifelong dream for her, she loves the job. “Where she goes I follow and where I go, she follows. We’re a package deal.”

They both describe being a bus driver as a “good job” and said other women should not feel intimidated by the size of the vehicle.


“You’re paid to drive people around. Most people are very good. Especially the older people are very nice. They say ‘thank you driver, have a nice day’,” Julia said.

Manuela added: “Yes, sometimes when they first get on they say ‘oh my goodness it’s a kid driving the bus’ and then say ‘good driving, thank you’.”

Julia believes that women are far more capable of driving a bus than they realise, urging anyone who enjoys driving to “give it a try”.

On Thursday, Dublin Bus launched its “more Mná campaign, that seeks to recruit more women drivers. Currently, just 6 per cent of Dublin Bus drivers are women, 193 out of more than 3,000.

The transport company commissioned research that found women’s career decisions still seem to be somewhat influenced by gender stereotypes, with 25 per cent of Irish women having been deterred from applying for jobs in the past due to certain roles being seen as a “man’s job” historically.

Vivienne Kavanagh, Talent Development and Diversity manager at Dublin Bus, believes the under-representation is a result of “perceptions” of the role.

“People maybe think it’s physically difficult to drive a bus, which it’s not. People might be worried about safety but it’s a very safe job. You have your cab that has the screen, you have your emergency button to contact central control. And then maybe people don’t see that many women drivers so they don’t think it’s a job for them,” she said.

Liz Moylan, Employee Relations and Talent Development Executive at Dublin Bus, said: “Bus driving is traditionally a male-dominated role and when we last ran this campaign in 2019, we actually doubled our number of female drivers. We really want that to happen again. We’re grossly underrepresented as women in this industry in general, so the more women we can get, the better.”

The company is running a series of open days between March and May where attendees will meet current female drivers and inspectors and get the opportunity to drive a training bus with a Dublin Bus professional driving instructor.

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Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times