Union survey highlights bus driver shortage

7 December 2021

A survey of union members working in the bus sector has revealed driver shortages at a far higher level than previously indicated by the industry.

Carried out by Unite, the survey reveals that the principal reasons why drivers are leaving are low pay, poor conditions and long hours.

Over 500 respondents working throughout the UK took part in the survey, which found there were bus driver shortages at 99% of bus garages.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This survey reveals that bus drivers are leaving the industry in droves due to low pay, poor working conditions and long hours. Bus companies have got to stop trying to sweep driver shortages under the carpet and start tackling the fundamental problems in the industry.”

The survey found that driver shortages are getting worse, with 79% of respondents recording that vacancies had increased since the pandemic began in March 2020. This is a highly disturbing picture for passengers, Ms Graham suggested, as they will be concerned about declining and unreliable services, especially as buses remain the most used form of public transport.

Almost half (46%) of respondents said that their garage had lost 20 to 40 drivers. Nearly a fifth (18%) said that losses were higher with 40 to 60 lost drivers and 4% recorded that their garage had lost between 100 and 200 drivers. The majority of respondents (86%) also indicated that most drivers were leaving to work in road haulage.

Unite national officer for passenger transport, Bobby Morton, said: “Until the bus operators improve pay and conditions and reduce the long hours culture then drivers will continue to leave and new entrants will be few and far between.”

Full details of the survey can be found – here.