More than 220 bus drivers trained under West of England scheme

Dan Norris

More than 220 bus drivers have been trained up to help meet a regional and national shortage.

The West of England Mayoral Combined Authority has provided funding to help train and recruit new bus drivers for First Bus and other operators using some of the £105m secured for the Bus Service Improvement Plan – the second highest funding award in the country.

In just 12 months, 220 bus drivers have already passed their practical test and are now ready to drive, helping address a regional, and national shortage.

Mayor Dan Norris, who is responsible for skills and training, says getting on top of the driver shortage with operators is “key” to building a sustainable West of England bus network, along with attracting passengers back on the region’s buses – which is where schemes like Birthday Buses come in.

Dan Norris said: “Driving a bus is a really great job.

“But I’ve always said one of the biggest challenges for buses right now is the severe bus driver shortage.

“That’s why I launched a big bus driver recruitment campaign and used funding to train up the next generation of West of England bus drivers.

“I am pleased that the Mayoral Combined Authority I lead – alongside First Bus and other operators – has reacted flexibly to this absolutely massive challenge by taking the immediate, and long-term action necessary to help fix this problem. 220-plus drivers in 12 months is no easy feat!

“Along with new and innovative services like Birthday Buses, plus having slashed fares across the board, I am building the sustainable West of England bus network residents deserve, and frankly, need.”

Passenger numbers in the West of England grew by 17% last year.