Around 150 representatives from across the industry came together for the national launch of the new Women in Bus and Coach initiative at the Hilton Metropole Birmingham on Wednesday.
The day-long event – held ahead of the routeone Awards at the same venue that night – followed a London launch earlier this year and marked the start of work to celebrate women in coach and bus and encourage equal access in areas where women are under-represented.
At the launch, key stakeholders signed up to the Charter agreeing to “challenge industry policies and practices that do not adequately support women” and work towards targets for women in all roles.
Women in Bus and Coach says it intends to work with operators, manufacturers, community associations and others in the industry to enforce change by means of a collaborative forum. Those leading the drive want to remove the barriers currently faced by women and create a “more inclusive service that is representative of our customers”.
Louise Cheeseman, Director of Buses at TfL and Chair of Women in Bus and Coach, says: “The bus and coach industries provide incredible opportunities for a varied, challenging and rewarding career. All women should have equal access to these opportunities and a workplace designed around their needs. We’ve made significant progress in recent years in recruiting more women into the industry, and I can’t wait to continue working with stakeholders to launch this charter and achieve both a professional environment and culture, and a bus and coach service that work for women.”
Driving and engineering are two particularly areas in which women are massively under-represented. According to the Office for National Statistics, only 11% of UK’s coach and bus drivers are women, although this represents a rise from 8.6% in the same survey three years earlier. Meanwhile, women make up only 16.5% of engineering staff in the UK.
Janette Bell, Managing Director First Bus, says: “Traditionally, women have been hugely under-represented in the transport industry but I’m happy to say that’s changing, thanks in part to the work we are doing to address the gender imbalance within our own company. The positive action we’re taking is beginning to make a difference, but we recognise that there is still more to do, and ‘Women in Bus and Coach’ is a great example of how the industry can support progress in this area. At First Bus we’re on a journey to a place where everyone is welcome, can be their true selves and succeed.”
Andy Lord, London’s Transport Commissioner, adds: “Women in Bus and Coach is a fantastic example of how we are collaborating with colleagues and organisations beyond TfL in the delivery of genuine improvements to make the places we work inclusive and diverse”.
Others supporting the initiative are Domenico Bondi, Managing Director of Volvo Bus UK & Ireland; Ed Wills, Managing Director of Brighton & Hove and Metrobus;
Marcos Hart, Managing Director of Arriva London; Ashraf Fawzi, Managing Director of MCV Bus and Coach Ltd and Dawson Group Managing Director Paul Sainthouse.