Bus driver ‘massive quits’ leading to service cancellation

Bus union Unite blamed low wages and long working hours for shortages (Image: Tolga Akmen/AFP)

Bus driver shortages are much higher than previously thought, with a hiring rate of ‘99%’ at garages, according to a union.

Unite says drivers have left the industry because of low wages and long working hours.

It added the situation was ‘very worrying’ for passengers and service – and will get worse unless workers are offered a better deal.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Bus companies must stop trying to solve driver shortages and start addressing the fundamental problems in the industry.

‘If this problem is not addressed quickly, the shortage will only get worse.’

Her warning follows a survey of 500 Unite members across the UK.

Unite says the survey shows driver shortages are ‘getting worse’ with 79% of respondents saying vacancies have increased since March 2020, when the coronavirus lockdown first applied in the UK.

“This is a very worrying picture for passengers, who will be concerned about reduced and unreliable service, especially as buses remain the dominant form of public transport,” they said. Most Used.

Half of the respondents revealed that their garage had lost between 20 and 40 drivers, while a fifth said there were more.

Most of those surveyed said staff shortages have resulted in services being cancelled.

Only 9% of those who responded said they had not seen service canceled at their garage.

More than two-fifths (43%) report that cancellations are split equally between peak and off-peak services.

Three months after the Passenger Transport Federation warned that a backlog of driving tests due to the pandemic had led to a shortage of drivers.

Buses parked at Shepherd’s Bush Garage during a strike in February of this year (Image: Getty)

With the country also facing a shortage of HGV drivers, some bus drivers are deciding to switch vehicles and drive trucks instead, which may now offer better wages.

Paying drivers has been a major industry issue for the union in recent months.

They said survey respondents said they believe people leave due to low wages (91%), working conditions (89%) and long hours (68%).

National passenger transport official Bobby Morton said: ‘The survey shows a bus driver shortage in the UK. Bus operators must bring these findings on board and act before a larger number of services are canceled due to driver shortages.

‘Until bus operators improve pay and conditions and reduce the culture of long hours drivers will continue to leave and new entrants will be few and far between.’

A Department for Transport spokesman said last month: ‘We are working closely with the bus sector to minimize workforce issues, as we have done throughout the pandemic. .

‘DVSA does an additional 50,000 bus, bus and HGV tests each year, and the DVLA has sped up the processing of the provisional bus license to around five days.’

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Huynh Nguyen

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