The current national shortage of bus drivers may be less acute than it was a few months ago, but it is nothing new for an industry that has struggled at times over past decades to recruit and retain the critical staff that it requires. ALAN MILLAR considers how this has affected operators in the past, especially in one major city, and raises questions about whether more radical solutions are needed than just paying higher wages.

A highly visible driver recruitment message on First South Yorkshire training vehicle 66886 (MX55 LHL), a Wright Eclipse Urban-bodied Volvo B7RLE.

The driver shortage that caused operators to reduce frequencies, cancel journeys at short notice and abandon services last year was the latest manifestation of a problem that has plagued the bus industry for decades.

Figures from the Department for Transport for September 2022 showed a 9.5% shortage of local bus drivers across Britain, ranging from 8% in England to 13% in Wales and 14% in Scotland. The figures within England ranged from 5% in the east and north-west to 10% in the west.

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