NX West Midlands Hero

Question time with Nikki Houghton, External Communications Manager

Get to know the faces behind our business

Exclusive behind the scenes blog series!

In our latest blog post, we will be interviewing Nikki our External Communications Manager and finding out what bus means to her.

Nikki's faves!

Favourite seat on a bus? Top Deck, Front Row #TDFR

Double deck or single deck? Double decker, otherwise how do I get TDFR?

Favourite feature on a bus? On the brand new buses there are cameras on the sides instead of wing mirrors. They’re really quite something.

What is your favourite colour on a bus? I like Coventry’s traditional sky blue buses but the Platinums are beautiful; especially the route branded ones. The green, orange and pink of the 9, 16, and 82/87 really pop out from the dark grey Platinum.

Tell us about yourself

I’m a born and bred Brummie and I love animals. I have a miniature dachshund called Daphne who rules my house and turns 10 this month (but still looks and acts like a puppy). I’m very nostalgic; my favourite film is Labyrinth and I can name a lot of 80s songs within a couple of seconds of them starting.

How long have you worked for National Express?

A while! I started in 2006 as an Engineering Administrator for the coach business, then moved across to the central communications team as a PA/Administrator and then became External Communications Manager for the bus business.

Have you always been a fan of buses? 

Yes, I have loads of lovely childhood memories of bus trips with my Old Man. He used buses all the time, and still does! I distinctly remember our bus trips to the old Bull Ring markets to get a bag of monkey nuts, the old Science Museum on Newhall Street and visiting family over in Rubery and Northfield.

My favourite thing was running upstairs to the top deck to try and get the front seat (#TDFR, always) and then looking down the periscope mirror to see the driver. Oh, now I’m showing my age...

What made you choose to work for National Express?

Well, having used the buses growing up, I thought it would be great to be a part of it. National Express often says “Join us on the journey” and here I am 15 years later, still enjoying my journey.

What does bus travel mean to you?

Buses connect our communities in a way that nothing else can. 2020/21 has truly shown that.

Our buses continued to run for those that relied on us, whether that was getting to work or school, or to get some food and essentials from the shops during lockdown. 

But most of all we played - and will continue to play - a part in tackling loneliness. Some people live alone and may not have any family, so they might not see many people, but hopping on one of our buses means they can get out and about, see others and enjoy things outside of their home.

What is your favourite bus or route?

I love our colourful Pride bus as it makes me smile whenever I see it - but my favourite has to be the 50 route. 

And, as I love all things nostalgic, the Metrobus Mk2 on the 50 route. That was the bus I’ll always remember getting on at the Maypole when taking trips with my Old Man, and later on with my friends on trips into Kings Heath and town.

What has it been like working during a pandemic?

Being office-based I’ve mostly worked from home as per government guidance, so I missed seeing my colleagues face-to-face. It’s been busy keeping up with what all the lockdowns and easing of restrictions meant for our services and our customers. 

It’s also been incredibly rewarding as we look back and see how we pulled together to support each other - in my own team and the wider business, and also in our communities.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My nan, Sheila. I was always very close to her and sadly we lost her to dementia in May last year, which was particularly difficult in the middle of a pandemic. She was well known around the Maypole as she was always out and about walking and talking to people (or often on the 50 or the old number 69 bus!)

Nan was a strong, active and caring woman and she inspired me to take on a few walking challenges during the pandemic; some of which were to raise money for Dementia charities but others which just helped me to get out and enjoy the fresh air, which was great for my own mental and physical wellbeing.

Keep your eyes peeled for more behind the scenes interviews coming very soon. Enjoying this blog series? we’d love to hear from you! Talk to us on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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Published: 14th June 2021

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