Recently appointed Under-Secretary of State for Transport Richard Holden has been briefed on the scale of the coach and bus driver shortage. It occurred in a summit convened by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) and the Department for Transport (DfT) on 29 November. Those parties will now agree an action plan to offer “tailored assistance” to help alleviate the crisis.
Representatives from operators, stakeholders, combined authorities and local and national government travelled to Westminster to address Mr Holden and DfT officials on the scope of the problem. Recent work by CPT found that when unfulfilled potential work is added to the equation, the shortage could be as high as 26% for coach drivers and 13% for bus drivers.
Mr Holden and DfT were briefed on initiatives already underway to attract and retain drivers. Streamlining the licence application and acquisition process also formed part of discussions. CPT says it and DfT “will now agree a prioritised action plan to give the coach and bus sector the assistance it needs.”
The minister notes that tackling coach and bus driver shortages “is a key priority” for DfT. He points out that the Department has worked with DVSA to increase the number of vocational test appointments. “Discussions like this are crucial to ensure that we collaborate with industry to retain and attract more people into an exciting career in the coach and bus sector,” he adds.
Adds CPT CEO Graham Vidler: “We are grateful to the Bus Minister, Richard Holden MP, for listening to CPT calls to bring coach and bus industry leaders together to tackle the UK driver shortage.
“Our summit explored recruitment and retention techniques, as well as streamlined processes, that could be taken by operators, DfT, its agencies and other government departments to better onboard and retain drivers.
“These measures will help to ensure that coaches and buses not only play their part in slashing congestion and CO2 emissions, but more crucially, continue to get people to work, the shops, education, hospital appointments or leisure destinations.”