FOREST, Va. -

How many people can say they've done the same job for more than 50 years?

A Bedford County man can claim that title.  He's starting his 54th year behind the wheel of a school bus.

James Bryant has been employed by Bedford County Public Schools for so long, the students on his route now could easily be the grandchildren of kids he picked up at the beginning of his career.

"I've said a dozen times that this is my last year," Bryant told WDBJ7 Wednesday.  "Each year I find myself signing up to drive the bus."

He's been a bus driver since 1959, before schools in Bedford County were integrated.

Hilda Davis was a passenger in the early days.

"He looked like he was really shy," Hilda said.  "He didn't want to answer anything I asked."   

She eventually got him to talk and they became friends - after she graduated, of course.

"He kept it professional," said Hilda, who eventually married James.  She ended up driving a bus for many years, too, but not as long as her husband.

"Driving a bus was a great opportunity," said Bryant, adding that he and his wife didn't do their jobs for the money.

"I have worked for 50 cents an hour, and then $1.00 an hour," Bryant said.

His love of the students brings him back year after year, and at 75 he has no plans to stop.

"I feel like I could go on until I'm 80, the way I feel now," said Bryant.  "They probably won't let me drive when I'm 80.  We'll have to take it one day at a time."

Bryant and all school bus drivers in Bedford County have to pass a physical every year to stay employed.

The Virginia Department of Education doesn't keep official records, but it's believed that Bryant is either the first or second longest serving school bus driver in the state.