Nearly 100 new bus drivers delayed by testing backlog

Prospective bus drivers in Burnley are currently waiting over three times longer than usual to get their licences and test dates confirmed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Local bus company Transdev said services throughout the country continue to be affected by driver shortages, and has almost 100 trainee drivers waiting more than three times longer than usual for licences and test dates.

So far, a relatively small number of journeys provided by Transdev have had to be cancelled – but the bus firm says 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.

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Transdev chief executive Alex Hornby 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.

The Academy training bus

“Right now, we have 95 new colleagues at The Academy, our in-house driver training facility. 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.

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“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.”

Customer numbers on Transdev’s 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% from the Department for Transport.