Alex Hornby, CEO of Transdev, has promised the firm will ‘always do its best’ for passengers as bus services throughout the country continue to be affected by driver shortages. So far, the operator said a relatively small number of journeys it provides across Yorkshire and Lancashire have had to be cancelled – but the firm said it fully realises the inconvenience caused and is thanking its customers for their patience, while it ‘pulls out the stops’ to resolve a situation which the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) says has led to a shortage of more than 4,000 drivers nationwide.
The company said customer numbers on its buses continue to recover strongly from the pandemic, with its buses now carrying 85% of the numbers on board at the same time in 2019 – ahead of the nationwide figure of 75% quoted by the Department for Transport.
But the firm says prospective drivers at its training facility are currently waiting over three times longer than usual to receive their licences and have test dates confirmed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) – leading to delays in moving them forward from the classroom to the road.
Alex said: “We’re grateful to our colleagues and our customers for their patience with us – we understand entirely how frustrating it is when journeys are cancelled, and it’s the last thing we want to do – especially at a time when we’re attracting more people back to bus. We’re using social media and our Transdev Go mobile app, which tracks all our buses in real time, to keep customers informed – and we’re running a high-profile recruitment campaign highlighting the many benefits we offer to new drivers, including a £1,000 welcome bonus to those already holding a licence. Right now, we have 95 new colleagues at The Academy, our in-house driver training facility in Yorkshire and Lancashire. They just want to complete their training and be out on the road serving our customers – but instead, they’re waiting over three times longer than usual to get licences and test dates confirmed from the DVSA. Now is the time our industry needs help to resolve these delays, so we can deliver services confidently and get more people back on board. Most of our buses are running as normal and we are attracting new drivers, so the current delays to licensing and testing are very frustrating. At an industry-wide level, we’re asking the Government to speed up the provisional licence applications and free up availability of theory and practical tests. We are also keen to introduce our own delegated examiner to help process testing, but DVSA training needed to help us introduce these roles remains suspended. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to do all we can and continue our campaign to recruit more new drivers.”