Lancashire bus boss calls on Government to help speed up training as public transport faces driver shortage
The boss of a bus company running routes across Lancashire has called on the Government to speed up the training and licensing of bus drivers to get more buses on the roads after lockdown,
Alex Hornby, CEO of north of England bus firm Transdev, says bus services throughout the country continue to be affected by driver shortages.
A relatively small number of journeys provided by Transdev across its routes in Lancashire – including services between Preston, Chorley, Burnley, Clitheroe and Nelson – have had to be cancelled, but the bus firm says it is pulling out the stops to help resolve a situation which the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) says has led to a shortage of more than 4,000 drivers nationwide.
Customer numbers on Transdev’s buses continue to recover from the pandemic, but the firm says prospective drivers at its training facility, The Academy, are waiting more than three times longer than usual to get their licences and test dates confirmed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), leading to delays in moving them forward from the classroom to the road.
Mr Hornby said: “We’re grateful to our colleagues and our customers for their patience with us; we understand 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.
“Right now, we have 95 new colleagues at The Academy. 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. 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.”
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