National Express Transit’s Barbara Townsend Named North Carolina Public Transportation Association 2023 Bus Driver of the Year

Anna Lam | 26 April, 2023 | Next

Bus Operator Jacqueline Williams Places Third in Bus Roadeo

BURLINGAME, CA – National Express North America’s Shuttle (WeDriveU) and Transit division today announced that two of its bus operators were honored with awards at the North Carolina Public Transportation Association (NCPTA) Annual Conference in Concord, NC.

A Bright Light in the Community
Barbara Townsend, a fixed route bus driver for Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) in Greensboro, NC operated by National Express Transit, was one of four drivers selected by the North Carolina Public Transit Association for its 2023 Driver of the Year Award. The annual award recognizes both small market and large market public transit drivers.

Barbara Townsend accepted NCPTA’s 2023 Driver of the Year Award on April 15, 2023 in Concord, NC. Image: National Express

These award recipients have championed the goals, services and commitment to public transportation through their community service and commitment to serve the citizens of North Carolina.

“Barbara Townsend is the kind of driver we all want to have –– kind, courteous, and caring, making her passengers’ safety and comfort a priority,” said David Bonner, General Manager, National Express Shuttle and Transit. “What makes her even more remarkable are her efforts to care for the needy and her amazing strength and compassion for others. We’re inspired by Barbara’s accomplishments and honored to work with the top bus driver in our state.”

Ms. Townsend transformed her grief of losing two children into founding “Next Step Loved Ones,” a nonprofit that helps families experiencing the loss of a child. She spearheaded projects to clothe and feed the homeless with a winter clothing drive and Christmas dinner, and supports children in need with an annual spring Fun Day treating local students to outdoor games, food and gift cards. Her plans include a Back to School Bash to provide school supplies to needy students as well as adopting two families from local schools this Christmas and a goal to open a homeless shelter.

Barbara honors her 15-year-old son, Malik, who drowned in an area lake, by volunteering to ensure children in the area have swimming skills to keep them safe, and perhaps, save their lives. She supports Page High School’s scholarship fund and the Malik Ramirez Learn To Swim Program. An article in WFMY credits Barbara with launching a foundation and collaboration with Greensboro Aquatic Center and Guilford County Schools to provide free classes.

Bus Roadeo Spotlights Safety and Skills

Jacqueline “Jackie” Williams, a bus driver for GoDurham Access paratransit service operated by National Express Transit, placed third in the NCPTA 2023 Bus Roadeo LTV category. The competition between bus operators from systems across the state tested safety and skills during a pre-trip vehicle inspection and a timed course while navigating obstacles and performing advanced maneuvers.

Stephanie Maher, National Express RVP, attended the 2023 NCPTA Bus Roadeo awards dinner and reception with third place LTV winner Jackie Williams, 2023 NCPTA Driver of the Year Barbara Townsend, and General Manager Tara Walton on April 16, 2023 in Concord, NC. Image: National Express

Barbara and Jackie will be guests of honor at events hosted by The Women’s Inspiration Network (WIN) employee resource group at National Express, and their awards were highlighted in the recent North America Shuttle and Transit employee Town Hall.


About National Express Shuttle and Transit
National Express Shuttle and Transit operates mobility systems that enhance peoples’ lives by transforming their daily journeys. These solutions help public and private sector customers evolve their mobility programs into the future by reducing carbon emissions and traffic congestion, and promoting safe and reliable shared alternatives to driving alone. The company is part of National Express North America (, a business unit of National Express Group, a global mobility leader serving more than 975 million bus and rail passenger journeys on four continents. Explore solutions and careers at and

The North Carolina Public Transportation Association (NCPTA) represents nearly 100 public transportation providers and more than 60 business partners. This diverse group of System Members comprises large market urban transit systems operating light rail vehicles and large buses to the smaller market rural transit systems operating just a few vans.