Bus routes and services are experiencing disruption across the country, particularly in the North East. This is a knock on effect from the HGV crisis as bus drivers are being ‘poached’ by haulage bosses for hugely increased wages.
The reasons for the bus driver shortages
Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon, chairman of the North East Joint Transport Committee and Martin Gilbert, chairman of NEBus, the local bus operators association, issued a joint statement earlier this week, which stated:
“It is the result of a number of complex factors including post-Brexit labour shortages, which has seen a large number of skilled workers leave the UK, higher levels of Covid-related sickness or absence and a huge backlog nationally in driver testing.”
The statement mentioned a national shortage of over 4000 bus drivers. It also said that the situation was being worsened by new government incentives to train more HGV drivers.
A welcome change of career?
The government sent out almost a million letters last week to current HGV licence holders, including bus drivers, and created 2,000 more fast-track driver courses, in order to attract more HGV drivers.
This will be an attractive proposition for many bus drivers, who could see their wages more than doubling by changing profession.
On average bus drivers earn £32,000 per year. This compares to the prospect of up to £78,000 as an HGV driver. Attractive indeed!
Local effect of bus driver shortages
Some bus companies have been forced to reduce the frequency of services to deal with this shortfall.
The worst hit parts of the country are the North East, Scotland, Bristol and Gloucestershire, although there are problems right across the country.
Go North East has had to cancel 160 journeys a day for the last few weeks. This is a huge disruption for many travellers.
Councillor Gannon and Mr Gilbert are calling on the government to take urgent action to remedy the situation.
Read more by Yvonne Wancke
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