Thousands of bus drivers have left their bus driver jobs to join the lorry driving industry, leaving Britons relying on public transport to struggle.
According to the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, there are more than 4,000 vacancies for UK bus and coach drivers.
These have been caused by the HGV industry desperately trying to fill its own labour shortages by offering better salaries, but left some bus companies having to cancel services.
Bobby Morton, Unite’s national officer for passenger transport, told Sky News: “A number of the things that lorry drivers share with bus drivers is very long hours, massive fatigue levels, lack of basic facilities such as toilet facilities and washing facilities.
“And the mindset of the bus drivers at the moment is that, in the haulage industry, the employers threw money at the problem, at the shortage.
“So the mindset is now, if we’ve got to work in these Victorian conditions, then we might as well get £20 an hour driving the lorry, as opposed to £10 an hour driving a bus. So the bus drivers are leaving in droves to go to the other industry.”
Trentbarton, a bus company which runs services across the East Midlands, is among firms which had to cut down on the amount of services they provide, because of a 10 per cent shortfall in its workforce.
Extra costs for consumers?
Managing director Jeff Counsell admitted the bus sector cannot compete with the HGV industry, because they have not been allowed to pass the costs to consumers, all whilst fuel prices cost his company £100,000 more so far this year compared to 2020.
The change in workforce comes as the government’s latest attempts to tackle drivers shortages in the HGV sector saw a visa scheme being approved for workers from abroad – which has been met with heavy criticism.
Duncan Buchanan, Road Haulage Association policy director, said it is ‘too late’ to try to bring in drivers from abroad in the runup to Christmas and “things are not visibly getting better”.
And he thinks the UK government’s approach is designed to fail. He said: “It’s too short, people aren’t sitting around doing nothing while waiting for visas to come to a different country, work for three months, disrupt their lives, get stuck in the UK over Christmas.
“If you were designing a visa system to fail, you would design something like this.
Buchanan thinks Britain needs migrants from all sorts of professions to come to Britain and receive good quality training – from lorry drivers to plumbers and waste refuse collectors.
Commenting in a group called ‘Koleka Problem’, George Mihulecea from Bucharest, Romania, said “most of the drivers left because of work condition reasons” and that it is not “worth it anymore” to come to the UK.