Whippet and FlixBus encourage female drivers

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Whippet and FlixBus joined forces to encourage more women to enter the industry. FLIXBUS

Coach drivers at Cambridgeshire-based Whippet Coaches coach drivers joined calls for more women to apply for driving jobs during Catch the Bus Month in September. Drivers from the operator, which has been working with FlixBus for around 2 years alongside its local service work, shared their experiences to encourage more women to try the career, as the most recent study from the Office for National Statistics found only 11% of the UK’s coach and bus drivers are women, while only 20% of transport industry employees are female.

Malgorzata Cieslinska-Skrzypczak, known to her colleagues as Meg, is 50 years old and originally from Poland. She has been driving FlixBus coaches for five years and has worked for Whippet Coaches in Cambridge since 2021. She says she loves travelling and experiencing new places. Meg said: “It’s seen as a male-orientated job, but I want women to know that it’s never too late to get a licence. I started after my children flew the nest, and it’s been such a privilege to get out on the road and meet new people.

“What’s fantastic about driving for our partner FlixBus is that you get tickets to travel for free on their global network during your time off. I love to travel in my spare time. I’m going to Paris on FlixBus with some friends I’ve made here at work for Christmas, and I can’t wait!”

International coach driver Liubove Simpson, 49, is also an advocate for more women to try driving, and says the best thing about the job is the freedom. She added: “You have to love driving, but once you’ve trained, it’s easy to drive a coach. One thing you realise about this job is that people will go off to try other things, but they are always drawn back to driving because they miss it so much.”

Married to James, 53, also a coach driver, the couple says the company schedules their shifts to ensure they get quality time together with their 13-year-old son Alexander. “The office window is constantly changing, and you get to meet so many different people,” James added.

Team Lead of Operations at FlixBus Hayley Russell won the Rising Star and Young Bus Manager Awards in 2022 and is a passionate advocate of women in transport. She said: “We love to hear the positive stories from Whippet drivers like Meg and Liubove, who both get fantastic feedback from our customers, which shows the importance of women in the driving seat. Women can offer a different perspective and understanding about passenger experience, which is great for ensuring journeys feel safe and inclusive for everyone.”

Ascendal’s Group Head of Marketing, Nicoletta Gennaro, who was the first-ever recipient of the MOVE 2023 Women in Mobility Award, believes women add tremendous value to the industry. She commented: “Transport has been a male-dominated industry for decades, and that has to change. We need to empower women to seek careers in transport, so they too realise how fulfilling this industry is, and how much impact we can have with our daily work.

“We must make change happen, and I’m certain that more female involvement in transport will only enrich the service we are able to provide for our passengers. I make myself available to anyone that’s interested in exploring career opportunities in the mobility sector.”