Go North West opens recruitment of 300 bus drivers

Go North West to recruit up to 300 bus drivers

Go North West (GNW) has opened what it says is Britain’s biggest recruitment campaign for bus drivers. The work comes as GNW prepares to commence operation of the two large franchise contracts that make up the first stage of bus reregulation in Greater Manchester.

The operator wants to hire up to 300 drivers that either have experience or are new to the industry. They will attend what is described as an “Elite Bus Driver Academy” in Bolton and be trained via either conventional methods for six weeks or through a longer apprenticeship scheme.

Drivers will be deployed onto the two large franchise contracts in Bolton and Wigan from September. GNW is utilising a ‘Be an Elite Driver’ recruitment campaign as part of the work, for which it says fighter pilot-style uniforms and imagery will be used.

Those recruits that pass through the conventional training programme will undergo a six-week course that is open to existing bus drivers and those without the necessary qualifications. The apprenticeship approach will combine studying with hands-on driving.

Speaking about the plans to recruit drivers, Go North West Managing Director Nigel Featham (pictured, front) says: “This is a ground-breaking recruitment campaign to match the huge scale of change in Greater Manchester’s public transport that we will be helping to deliver.

“We have already had lots of interest in driving the new Bee Network buses and we are expecting thousands of applications.” Mr Featham points to Go-Ahead London’s success in the capital’s bus market as evidence of the group’s competence in a regulated environment.

Use of apprenticeships by the Go-Ahead subsidiary follows a positive verdict on such a method of recruitment by the group’s Managing Director, Regional Bus, Martin Dean in late March. At that time, Mr Dean said that the apprenticeship approach “really does work,” noting that it leads to a lower rate of attrition among drivers during the key first year of service.