A further pay increase for drivers employed by Thames Travel and the upping of a financial incentive to attract new recruits have illustrated the growing financial onus on businesses in the sector to keep up with cost-of-living pressures and to attract and retain staff.
The pay uplift for drivers is the second in 2022 at the Go-Ahead Group subsidiary. In addition, and alongside sister business Oxford Bus Company, it is now paying a £3,000 sign-on bonus to fully qualified new members of driving staff. The latter is a rise of £1,000 on the previous incentive.
Hourly pay rates at Thames Travel have risen to £14.90 – up by 80p – for Monday to Friday work, £15.45 – up by 85p – for weekend shifts, and £19.00 for what the operator terms “unsocial hours,” applying after 2345hrs. Office employees within the business have also received a further rise. Overall, drivers’ wages at the operator have increased by more than 10% in 2022.
Interim Managing Director Luke Marion says the uplifts are to support staff and to recognise their hard work. Mr Marion adds that an annual pay rise was agreed earlier in 2022, “but it felt right to review that considering the further increase in inflation, which was not anticipated when we made that award.”
Rates for trainee drivers at have also been increased. They are £1 below the standard hourly pay for those that are fully qualified. That forms part of the operator’s ongoing recruitment campaign, “making it easier for people to switch to a career in bus driving.”
Former employees of any Go-Ahead Group subsidiary are not eligible for the sign-on bonus. It is paid in four instalments: Driving on the road independently; passing the probationary period; and then at six and twelve months from completion of probation. Such an approach is intended to improve driver retention and “reward dedication to the bus company.”
In earlier announcing the increase to the sign-on bonus at Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel, Mr Marion described driver recruitment as “challenging” but added that by strengthening campaigns to attract staff, the operators involved hope it “will help us to reach the volume we need.”