Industry brings leaders together for driver shortage talks

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CPT’s Graham Vidler (right) with new Buses Minister Richard Holden. CPT

New Buses Minister Richard Holden heard from the industry how driver shortages are affecting its ability to deliver services 

A special summit convened by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) was held in London on 29 November to address driver shortages facing the bus and coach industry. With a nationwide average 10% (9.3% bus, 15.9% coach) driver vacancy rate (9.3% for bus and 15.9% for coach), representatives from operators, stakeholder bodies and combined authorities, as well as local and national governments, travelled down to Westminster to collaborate with Bus Minister Richard Holden MP and DfT officials on how to retain and attract more drivers behind the wheel.

The Minister said: “Tackling driver shortages in the bus and coach sector is a key priority which is why we have worked with DVSA to increase the number of vocational tests available by training more vocational driving examiners. Discussions like this are crucial to ensure we collaborate with industry to retain and attract more people to an exciting career in the bus and coach sector.”

Graham Vidler, Chief Executive of the CPT, said: “We’re grateful to Richard Holden MP for listening to CPT calls to bring bus and coach 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, the DfT, its agencies and other Government departments to better onboard and retain drivers.

“These measures will help ensure buses and coaches 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.”

During the event, the CPT and operators spoke about initiatives underway to attract and retain drivers. Discussions were also had on how streamlining the licence application and driver testing process could help the sector reduce the vacancies. The DfT and the CPT will now agree a prioritised action plan to give the bus and coach sector the tailored assistance it needs.