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Diasporama #73 : Ahmed Serhani, London’s most beloved bus driver

Ahmed Serhani is London’s most beloved bus driver. The Moroccan national smiles, chats and supports his clients while on duty, which made his story go viral in Morocco and the UK.

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Ahmed Serhani, a Moroccan national who was named London's friendliest bus driver./Ph. Youtube screenshot

He is joyful, humble and he is London’s friendliest bus driver. Ahmed Serhani is a Moroccan national who left his country for the UK to drive the happiest bus in the city, route 214. Serhani was the star of a film produced by Joe Bloom, an artist, filmmaker and one of his loyal passengers.

Before making it to social media and the news, Ahmed was a regular immigrant who decided to leave his hometown, Casablanca, to complete studies in Europe. Sharing his story with Yabiladi, Ahmed Serhani recalled the old days in his neighborhood where he was known as «Hamouda the photographer».

«Growing up, I loved photography and enjoyed taking photos of my neighbors, friends and family», he told Yabiladi. But before leaving the Moroccan metropolis, Ahmed used to study at Hassan II university.

A Casablanca-native in London

«I graduated high school and went for a law degree but unfortunately I couldn’t finish my studies», Ahmed said. The young man decided to emigrate but unlike young people his age, he set his eyes on London.

«At that moment, I was dreaming of living abroad and I wanted really bad to emigrate», recalled Ahmed, who encountered a few problems at the beginning. «My English was very average when I first came to the UK, although I had studied the language in Morocco», he explained.

Hoping to finish his studies in the city, Ahmed Serhani realized that he couldn’t afford tuition fees. Determined to start a career and make a living, he enrolled at a business school and worked at restaurants in the evening.

«It was hard at the beginning because as I said I did not master the language but interacting with people at work helped overcome that», Ahmed stated. However, studying and working at the same time was no easy task for the Casablanca-native who dropped out of school to get a full-time job.

«After doing several jobs, I had the opportunity to work for London’s bus company», he joyfully declared. Being a bus driver became the best job in the world for the Moroccan national who was quickly noticed for his curtesy, his big heart and friendly attitude while on duty.

 

London's most beloved bus driver

«Working as a bus driver is an interesting job», he told Yabildi, adding : «you get to meet locals, tourists, visitors and sometimes people from all over the world». «I like my job and I enjoy meeting these people, saying 'hi' and talking to them», said Ahmed who joined Metroline, a bus company, in November 2004.

Indeed, the Moroccan bus driver proved that he really likes and enjoys his job. His story made it to social media, UK TV channels and the news after he was named London’s friendliest bus driver. One of his passengers, Joe Bloom made a short film dedicated to Ahmed.

The six-minute movie called «Ahmed Serhani, A portrait», will be premiered at the London Transport Museum in 2019, the BBC reported after publishing a video on the Moroccan bus driver.

Ahmed’s fame did not stop there, as London’s mayor Sadiq Khan shared the BBC video on his Twitter account writing : «Taking the 214 bus? Look out for London's 'friendliest best driver' - Ahmed Serhani - whose story was shown this week on BBC London News - and is soon to be featured at the London Transport Museum».

«I got famous in London because of my passengers», Ahmed humbly declared. «After they board bus 214 and they see how I behave and deal with my clients they remember me and they tell others (…) and things get viral because of social media of course», said Serhani.

In addition to social media, Ahmed Serhani’s work and attitude have been appreciated by the company he works for. The man received commendation letters and several certificates from his managers in addition to winning the Customer Service Award at the Bus Award in 2007.

Ahmed Serhani's other half

Despite his fame, Ahmed Serhani feels incomplete in London as his other half is still in Morocco. «My wife and son live in Morocco because of some unfinished paperwork», he told Yabiladi.

His wife needs to pass an English exam in order to be able to join him in London. «I can’t live without my wife and son next to me», he argued. «It is tough to be separated from my family but I am not giving up and I am doing my best to succeed and work hard to provide for them», he said with a determined voice.

Ahmed believes that his job is a good way of forgetting about his problems. To him, being a bus driver is also about making people have a better day.

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