Last reviewed 19 August 2021

The Operations Director of the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), Keith McNally, has written to Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, warning him of the issues that will arise if vocational testing slots for coach and bus operators are not provided urgently.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is facing a backlog of testing following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. As a result, coach and bus operators who do not have their own in-house testing facilities are finding themselves unable to hire drivers to keep up with the demand for services.

Operators are beginning to report that, due to a shortage of drivers, they are having to tell schools they are unable to run vital home-to-school services.

The DVSA has confirmed that it intended to prioritise vocational tests for heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers but Mr McNally has called for coach and bus operators to get a fair share of this testing capacity.

There is already a shortage of 3000 drivers in the industry caused by a lack of testing availability, he told Mr Shapps, and, given the importance of buses and coaches in helping thousands of people make journeys, testing for bus and coach drivers must not be deprioritised.

Mr McNally told the Transport Secretary that the industry will continue to work collaboratively with the DVSA to overcome challenges facing the transport industry.

With pupils in England due to return to school next month, it is getting increasingly urgent that the driver shortage is addressed as soon as possible, he pointed out, as the shortage is “placing increasing pressure on local authorities to find alternatives”.