At 23, Matthew Tay embarked on a vocation quite off the beaten track in Singapore.
Turning down offers from three local universities, Tay made the decision to pursue his passion and became a bus captain for private bus company A&S Transit.
He documents his journey as a bus captain on his TikTok account @idrivebuswhich contains several videos that have gained popularity – one video in particular which details the steps he took to become a bus captain has garnered over 151,500 views.
On the account, Tay shares with his followers what he does as a bus captain and how he got there in the first place.
In addition to running his route, Tay performs vehicle maintenance, as well as cleaning the interior of the bus.
@99colors bus uncle but i’m 23 #sgbus #busdriversoftiktok #Singapore #fyp ♬ As He Was – Harry Styles
He also joked in a video that working comes with perks like a corner desk, “the boss isn’t around you” and “sightseeing while working”.
The rekindled passion
Tay’s journey as a bus captain began in 2021, when he completed his Class 4 driving license course while on National Service.
Talk to Mothership, Tay revealed that he was actually about to go to college at the time.
He had previously accepted an offer to study business administration at the National University of Singapore in 2020.
She was also offered places at Singapore Management University and Nanyang Technological University.
“At the time, from 2017 to 2021, my passion for buses was dying because the models were all becoming more mainstream and there was nothing interesting left,” Tay admitted.
However, when a friend came knocking on his door with the opportunity to drive a bus, Tay’s passion slowly rekindled.
@99colors after 1 month and $1.2k later its the trip #busdriversoftiktok #Singapore ♬ Say Something – Piano Covers Club by I’m in Records
After getting his licence, Tay practiced driving a bus on the weekends when he was away from national service.
The more he drove, the more he realized he “wanted to do something closer to my heart,” Tay said. Mothership.
His decision made, Tay then had to convince his parents.
At first they wondered if he could make ends meet.
When Mothership When asked if he could reveal how much he earns, Tay dodged the question as she was “sensitive”.
Luckily, seeing that Tay liked what he was doing, his parents started supporting him. It helped that he also did it part-time and could still explore other jobs or positions within the bus industry.
Their blessings, however, came with a caveat.
If Tay couldn’t advance in the transportation industry, they reminded him that he “should probably go back to school.”
However, not everyone was so supportive.
Tay said Mothership that the harshest comment he received was that he was a “disappointment” for choosing not to go to college.
In the face of such criticism, Tay shrugs it off, choosing instead to pursue his passion.
“Passion is what fuels me,” he said, adding that he doesn’t see himself becoming “a corporate drone.”
“I don’t want to end up in a mundane 9-to-5 job and do something that I don’t like, because I’ll just do it for the money and end up dreading going to work every day,” he said. “I want to have fun in my job so it’s not so exhausting.”
Touched by his godmother
Another motivation was her godmother.
They met in 2012 when she was on the 860 bus service route – a seasoned bus captain herself, she’s been driving for more than 10 years and sent her two children to college using her driving earnings bus alone.
Over the years, they stayed in touch.
She treated him like one of “her own children” buying him meals to make sure he didn’t go hungry even when “she doesn’t exactly earn a lot,” Tay wrote in her video.
Three years after they met, the couple developed a bond so strong that she suggested he become her godmother. Tay accepted.
@99colors @goaheadsingapore please take care of her #fyp #bus driver #sgbus #tiktoksingapore #singaporetiktok ♬ original sound – 99颜色🌈 – idrivebus
The kindness and devotion of his godmother touched him, which further inspired him to pursue the vocation.
He started drawing buses at the age of 7
Tay’s curiosity about buses goes way back when he was just a kid.
Tay shared that he first became interested in buses when he was 7 years old.
At the time, he drew the buses he passed.
He later joined a group of like-minded friends on their bus-spotting escapades.
“Our passion has grown even more since then,” he said. “We used to take bus photos, but now we drive buses together.”
Of the five close friends he made, three of them are now bus captains.
Ready to get to work
For Tay, being a bus captain is just the start.
His goal is to work his way up in the transportation industry, starting with the operations team of a public transportation company.
“I’m doing this in the meantime while I continue my search for other opportunities in the industry,” Tay said.
For Tay, he was ready to “start from scratch” to see how far he can go.
Top image via @idrivebus/TikTok.