S’pore’s 23-year-old bus captain has turned down offers from 3 local universities to pursue his lifelong passion for buses


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At the age of 23, Matthew Tay has taken on a calling that is significantly off the beaten track in Singapore.

Turning down offers from three local universities, Tay decided to pursue his passion and became a bus captain for the private bus company A&S Transit.

He documents his journey from the bus captain on his TikTok account @idrivebus, which has multiple videos that have gained quite a bit of traction — one video in particular showing the steps he took to become a bus captain was seen more than 151,500 times. Viewed.

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 driving his route, Tay performs vehicle maintenance and cleans the interior of the bus.

@99colours bus uncle but i’m 23 #sgbus #busdriversoftiktok #singapore #fyp ♬ As It Was – Harry Styles

He also joked in a video that the job comes with perks like a corner office, “don’t boss around you” and “sights while you work”.

Passion revived

Tay’s bus captain’s journey began in 2021, when he went on to get his Class 4 driver’s license during his military service.

Speak with mothership, Tay revealed that he was actually going to go to college then.

He had already accepted an offer to study business administration at the National University of Singapore in 2020.

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He was also offered positions at Singapore Management University and Nanyang Technological University.

“Then, from 2017 to 2021, my passion for buses died as the models became more and more common and there was nothing interesting left,” Tay admitted.

However, when a friend knocked on his door with the ability to actually drive a bus, Tay’s passion was slowly rekindled.

@99colours after 1 month and $1.2k later, this is the journey #busdriversoftiktok #singapore ♬ Say Something – Piano Covers Club by I’m in Records

After getting his driver’s license, Tay practiced driving a bus on the weekends when he was released from national service.

The more he drove, the more he realized he “wanted to do something closer to my heart,” Tay told me. mothership.

Negroes brushed away

Once he had made up his mind, Tay had to convince his parents.

At first they were concerned if he could make ends meet.

When mothership asked if he could reveal how much he earned, Tay recoiled from the question because it was “sensitive.”

Luckily, seeing that Tay liked what he was doing, his parents started to support him more and more. It helped that he also did this part-time and was able to explore other jobs or positions within the bus industry.

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However, their blessings came with a warning.

If Tay couldn’t make progress in the transportation industry, they reminded him that he “probably should go back to college”.

However, not everyone was so supportive.

Tay told mothership that the harshest comment he got was that he was a “disappointment” for choosing not to go to college.

In the face of such criticism, Tay waves them off and instead chooses to indulge 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 doing something I don’t like because I’m just doing it for the money and I’m going to end up dreading going to work every day.” he said . “I want to enjoy my work so it doesn’t become so exhausting.”

Touched by his godmother

Another motivator was his godmother.

They met in 2012 when she was on the route for bus service 860 – an experienced bus captain herself, she has been driving for over 10 years and sent both of her children to college using her earnings from driving buses alone.

They kept in touch over the years.

She treated him like one of “her own children” by buying him meals to make sure he wouldn’t go hungry, even if “she doesn’t really make much money,” Tay wrote in his video.

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Three years after they met, the couple developed such a strong bond that she suggested she become his godmother. Tay agreed.

@99colours @goaheadsingapore please take care of her 🫡 #fyp #busdriver #sgbus #tiktoksingapore #singaporetiktok ♬ original sound – 99颜色🌈 – idrivebus

His godmother’s kindness and devotion touched him, further inspiring him to pursue the calling.

Started sketching buses when he was 7

Tay’s curiosity about buses started way back when he was a kid.

Tay at 10 years old. Photo courtesy of Matthew Tay.

Tay said he first became interested in buses when he was 7 years old.

At the time, he sketched the buses he encountered.

Later, he joined a group of like-minded friends on their bus to spot escapades.

“Our passion has continued to develop since then,” he said. “We used to only take pictures of buses, now we ride buses together.”

Of the five close friends he made, three are now bus captains.

Matthew and his friends pose with the buses they drive. Photo courtesy of Matthew Tay.

Ready to go to work

For Tay, being a bus captain is just the beginning.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Tay.

His goal is to work his way through the transportation industry, starting with the operations team of a public transportation company.

“I’m doing this in the meantime as I continue my search for other opportunities in the industry,” Tay said.

For Tay, he was willing to “start from scratch” to see how far he can go.

Top image via @idrivebus/TikTok.