A number of bus services in Market Harborough have had to be scrapped over the last few days because of a driver shortage.
Stagecoach has had to cancel some of its no18 journeys connecting the town to Desborough, Rothwell and Kettering as it strives to recruit and train up more crews to plug the gap.
The major operator apologised to passengers as it blamed the Covid pandemic, Brexit and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) taking longer to process bus driver licences for the current crisis.
“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,” said a Stagecoach spokesman.
“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.
“However, it takes an average of 10 weeks for a professional bus driver to be fully trained and any delays outside our control in the processing of licences means we cannot get them on the road on our network as fast as we would like.
“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 frontline teams whilst we work to get our new drivers on the road.
“Where we do have to make changes to our bus services, we are providing live updates to our customers through our social media channels.”
Check out applying for a job driving for Stagecoach here: https://isw.changeworknow.co.uk/stagecoach_bus/vms/e/stagecoach_bus/search/newFellow national bus giant Arriva, which also operates many rural services throughout Harborough and Leicestershire, said they have not been forced to cancel any local journeys so far.
An Arriva spokeswoman echoed an industry statement from the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT): “Tens of thousands of bus routes across the country are running on schedule each day and what we are seeing are localised issues with driver availability caused by a number of issues, including drivers having to self-isolate.
“We are not seeing a shortage of people wanting to become bus drivers, recognising the strength in the sector.
“But currently there is a greater number of people leaving the industry due to external factors such as EU nationals choosing to return to their home countries and the pandemic meaning people are rethinking their lifestyle and choosing not to rejoin the workforce.
“A backlog at the DVLA and DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) has meant that new entrants to the industry have faced delays securing provisional licenses and testing slots,” stressed the CPT.
“We are confident that these will be short-term problems.
“The DVLA has confirmed that it will process new provisional licence applications as a priority so new drivers can start their training as soon as possible and our members are reporting a much improved position.”
You can find out more about applying to Arriva for a driver’s job by visiting the company’s webpages here: https://www.arrivabus.co.uk/floating-pages/join-the-arriva-bus-familyOr visit: https://arrivabusjobs.co.uk/