Sheffield bus driver shortage: First and Stagecoach reveal how long cancellations could last
Bus services in Sheffield are still being cancelled due to the national driver shortage, with dozens of services being affected each day.
And the bad news for passengers is that the disruption could be set to continue for some time yet.
Both First and Stagecoach have issued an update about the crisis affecting bus services across Britain, and they say that although new drivers are being trained it takes several weeks before they are ready to hit the roads.
Yesterday more than 100 services around the city were cancelled, sometimes at short notice, due to a lack of drivers available to serve the routes.
There are more cancelled today.
What routes in Sheffield are affected?
Both First and Stagecoach are advertising for bus drivers, with the former offering a £1,000 ‘welcome bonus’ for existing licence holders and the latter promising an annual salary of around £21,800 for drivers with a public service vehicle) licence.
First said it was not short of people applying for bus driving jobs but it takes time to go through the training programme and learn the routes.
Why is it taking so long to train new drivers?
A spokesman said: “We expect the driver shortage situation to continue for a while yet, but to help with the situation we are adjusting some frequencies and journeys on some routes that are showing the least demand for bus travel at various times of the day. This action should improve reliability and have less of an impact on our customers’ travel patterns.
Rob Hughes, operations Director at First South Yorkshire, said: “Like many other businesses up and down the country, we are experiencing a shortage of drivers at the present time and it is having an effect on some of our services across the city.
“We are recruiting new drivers and also have people in our driving school who will shortly be released into service which should assist with the situation.
“I would like to apologise to our customers who may be affected with some bus journeys that may be cancelled over this temporary period.”
Neither First nor Stagecoach were able to say how many extra bus drivers were needed but they both said they were working hard to minimise the disruption.
Stagecoach said that as well as the time taken to train new drivers, delays in processing licences, which are outside its control, were adding to the hold-ups.
How long is the disruption expected to last?
A spokesperson for Stagecoach Yorkshire said: “Our teams are working incredibly hard to ensure we continue to run the vast majority of our timetabled services and we remain focused on prioritising the services we know are most important for our customers.
“As is the case with many organisations and sectors in the economy, the pandemic is continuing to impact our business. Issues such as Brexit and the DVLA taking longer to process bus driver licences has added to these challenges beyond our control.
“We are working round the clock to recruit people into our team and train them in the roles that we need, and we are seeing a strong demand for jobs.
“We apologise to our customers who have been affected by any short term service changes, and we would like to thank them for their patience with our staff whilst we work to get our new drivers on the road.”