Zug, 19.11.2019

Change of lane in the Zug Village

"Zug is a village," says Normann Mahlknecht, as he drives the bus No. 3 from Metalli towards Baar. As if to confirm this, there are always passengers who greet the driver with a wave or start a conversation with him. Many know him and travel regularly with him. Mahlknecht welcomes his passengers with a big "hello". The native of Salzburg has been working as a bus driver for Zugerland Verkehrsbetriebe (ZVB) for 11 years. He previously worked as a Chef de Service, Chef and Sommelier in Zurich and Davos.

Normann Mahlknecht is an example of the kind of newcomer currently being looked for by the ZVB. Until now, they have only hired people who already have a bus driver licence, says ZVB media spokeswoman Karin Fröhlich. "With the new offer, we are deliberately looking for newcomers who want to reorient themselves (lateral entrants) and we train them up to become bus drivers."

A new idea for recruiting more bus drivers: Does this mean the ZVB has a staffing problem, similar to the SBB, who are also trying to recruit with a similar campaign? Karin Fröhlich denies this. There are currently about 200 bus drivers on duty, and new drivers are being constantly recruited. “This offer for lateral entrants is running in addition to the regular recruitment.”

Information evenings are currently being held for interested parties. The demand is high, says Fröhlich – and includes people from the catering, sales and craft sector. It is important that a bus driver is not only regarded as a driver, but also as a service provider. "Being a bus driver is demanding - you always have customer contact, and you have to be friendly and patient. That's why we want to specifically target people who enjoy working with people, "explains Fröhlich. Training for lateral entrants lasts three months - including driver training, for which the ZVB contributes half of the costs.

Normann Mahlknecht only changed his profession to that of a bus driver "at an almost biblical age", as he himself says. Finding a new job in the hotelier business in his mid-40s was virtually impossible, so he reoriented himself. Mahlknecht's father worked for the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB). "Travel has always fascinated me. But because I didn’t want to drive things around, the choice quickly fell on being a bus driver, "says the 58-year-old, who now lives in Mettmenstetten.

Bus driver Normann Mahlknecht: "I have a job with the most beautiful view."

When asked what he enjoys most in his job, Normann Mahlknecht unhesitatingly points to the big front windscreen of the bus: "I have a workplace with the very best view." Besides, as a bus driver, you’re alone in the driver's cab, but you have a lot of contact with passengers. and also with the other bus drivers at traffic nodes such as the Baar and Cham stations. "Older people, in particular, often feel the need to talk. I like to listen, and there are interesting discussions”, says the former Chef de Service, who also likes to observe his passengers. "Not to spy on them, but to see if they're OK," he says, smiling.

In addition to being able to get on with people, it’s also important to be prudent in traffic. The ZVB bus drivers work in shifts, which is why flexibility and good agreement with the family or the partner are important, Mahlknecht said. Bus drivers are sometimes insulted if the bus is delayed – you therefore need patience and a thick skin. The positive experiences predominate, however. "On line 3, two older women sometimes pass chocolate to me. And, of course, I don’t say no," says the bus driver with a smile. Zug is really like a village.

The fact that people know him and maintain a friendly relationship with him becomes apparent when a mother and her son board at the Lättich bus stop. They begin to chat cheerfully with Normann. "I also want to be a bus driver when I grow up," says four-year-old David, smiling.

Further information at: www.zvb.ch/unternehmen/offene-stellen.