Published date 15 February 2024

The 15-year-old bus enthusiast who took 105 trips in one month – thanks to Regional Mayor’s birthday scheme

Mayor Dan Norris and Jacob at Stagecoach North Bristol Depot

A Bristol schoolboy and self-professed bus enthusiast travelled over 100 times on buses in one month for FREE using his 'Birthday Bus Month Pass’ from Mayor Dan Norris’s West of England Mayoral Combined Authority.

Jacob Shlimon, 15, from Knowle, fell in love with buses when he was just three years old. Now he is an expert, planning routes all around Bristol, and the wider region.

In fact, according to his mum, Jacob has travelled on every single bus in the city bar two nighttime services and can identify all the different bus models used in the region. She says the hobby has transformed Jacob into a "much more confident teenager, and young man".

In December, which was Jacob’s birthday month, the schoolboy took 105 bus trips, including with friends from a youth club which he attends weekly into town to go to a cinema and retro gaming arcade. In fact, one day, Jacob spent 13 hours riding buses to and around Bath, going on ones and visiting places he’d never been on and to before - boosting his confidence, says proud mum Anny.

Jacob, who recorded all the rides during his Birthday Month in a spreadsheet, and spent his time meticulously researching the journeys he was going to make the month before, said it was a great way to get to know the city and region he lives in better.

Unsurprisingly, the youngster, who is easily able to reel off routes and bus numbers, having memorised different bus timetables, is set on becoming a bus driver when he is older. Mum Anny added: "He's always loved the buses. I think it started with his fascination with numbers when he was in nursery, and really developed later on when he started getting the bus by himself in secondary school. It's the versatility of buses that makes them so interesting to Jacob; all the different routes and the connections you can get. He’s always been interested in buses as a way of getting people from A to B. He’s also started going to a music group at the Bristol Beacon and events run by the Vintage Bus Group, and his friends definitely now rely on him to get them wherever they are going! And that’s why he’s really enjoyed and taken advantage of the Mayor’s Birthday Buses scheme – even keeping track of all his journeys in his spreadsheet! The buses have been incredible for his confidence – I can’t emphasise that enough. It’s made him a much more confident teenager, and young man. He's now really independent, which is brilliant."

Dan Norris, West of England Mayor, who joined Jacob for a tour of a bus depot in North Bristol, says: “It was clearly many happy returns - and singles - for Jacob in his birthday month! Bravo to him for using the buses out there - that's exactly what we need more people to do in order to help build the local transport system residents deserve, which in turn will cut congestion and slash emissions locally. Birthday Buses is working. In fact, half of people using it say they are now more likely to uses the buses long term – the key point of the scheme. I would encourage everyone with birthdays coming up, and who hasn’t already done so, to please be more like Jacob and sign up for their free Birthday Bus Month Pass and my Mayoral Combined Authority will get it in the post. Head to today.”

Chris Hanson, Operations Director, Stagecoach West, added: “It was an absolute pleasure to welcome Jacob and his friends to Bristol Depot and we’re delighted he enjoyed using his birthday pass so frequently. Jacob is the perfect advocate for bus travel and hopefully, this will continue for him and his generation into the future."

Birthday Buses gives locals unlimited free bus and WESTlink travel across the West’s 350-plus square mile network throughout the month of their birthday. So far 41,000 people have applied for the “Birthday Buses” scheme, making 455,000 journeys.

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