Returning To The Bus Industry

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RogerOut

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Is it common for drivers to leave and return to the industry? I worked for one of the big groups a few years ago and then a smaller company until September last year.

Basically I joined the Police, but don’t think the jobs for me. Lots of paperwork and staying on late, coupled with a long commute.

One of the big companies is in my town. Are bus companies recruiting with the pandemic ongoing? Are people using buses? How safe is the bus industry generally?
 
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Back in Geordieland!
I have not driven a bus for years, but I know many people who still do, mostly Arriva, but some at Go ahead and stage coach, in the north east England and London areas.

You will obviously have a better idea of wages and conditions in both jobs, I assume bus companies are desperate for staff as I was asked to go back.

Personally, for the money/ hassle ratio I would not recommend it, I was talking to the guy who delivered our carpet yesterday and he only does 20 deliveries a day and is on roughly the same money as a bus driver locally. If you are just after a job, as opposed to a career, I would look for something like that.

I really can't see a happy out come post pandemic for the bus industry unless there are major changes as to how things are run.

But then I am a miserable Victor Meldrew esq curmudgeon, so it might be best to ignore me.
 

RogerOut

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He he fair enough. I left one of the big bus companies two years ago and then went to a coach company for just shy of a year then went on furlough after covid.
I was wondering if the big companies area still taking on drivers, with the ongoing pandemic. How many people use buses and will this still be the case in the future? It was said to me once that bus driving could be a job for life, if that’s what you wanted...
Admittedly, there are better careers out there and I do hold a HGV license that I got in the Army.
 
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Back in Geordieland!
Wages and conditions have taken a hammering in nearly all driving jobs in the last few decades, I know someone who used to drive hazmat out of ICI and he is on a fraction in real terms of what he was 30 years ago. A tenner an hour seems to be the going rate round here for service work, terrible IMHO. I was on that for overtime in 1985.

Edit, while I think on, I have a couple of good mates who joined the police at 18 and retired at 48 on cracking pensions, not many driving jobs are going to let you do that. Possible the police pension is not as good now?
 
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RogerOut

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I’m only into it by a few months. I believe police officers could retire after 30 years, like you say potentially at 48.
Now I think it’s 60 until you get the pension, regardless of length of service. This depends when you joined.
Yes bus service pay is around 10/11 ph outside London.
 

WM Bus

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How many people use buses and will this still be the case in the future?
NXWM Birmingham routes tend to be busy/well used from what I've seen.
They'll probably be busier with shops, etc reopening soon as well.
 

Flange Squeal

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One of the big companies is in my town. Are bus companies recruiting with the pandemic ongoing?
Without knowing what part of Sussex you are in it's hard to answer if your local operator is, however a quick scout of bus operator websites in Sussex (and the surrounds) finds driver jobs going at the following...

Arriva - Maidstone
Compass - Worthing & Lewes
Hams Travel - Flimwell
Southdown PSV - Copthorne
Stagecoach - Chichester
 

Flying Snail

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There are lots of different career paths in police forces, not all are shift work/overtime either. I'd think carefully before quitting, especially if your only option is a dead-end bus driving job on little more than minimum wage.
 

Andy Pacer

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There are lots of different career paths in police forces, not all are shift work/overtime either. I'd think carefully before quitting, especially if your only option is a dead-end bus driving job on little more than minimum wage.
Depends where you work, the minimum rate for the "dead end bus driving job" for the business I work for is £12.60 p/h, oh and I worked my way up to a management role earning over double that, so perhaps not such a "dead end job" if people so wish...
 

Roger1973

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I've no detailed knowledge of any of the bus operators in Sussex so can't give a definitive answer.

There's little to lose by making contact and asking (with some potential employers, it's hard to get hold of an actual person to talk to, rather than going through the full application process and then finding out something that might have put you off applying in the first place...) These days it's not as if it will even cost you the price of a stamp.

There certainly are PCV licence holders who move between bus driving and other jobs, it's certainly not unusual to go back to bus driving after something else. (it would probably be an advantage if your CPC is up to date but may not be a huge deal if you need the odd day.)

Some operators prefer to take on new trainees rather than existing PCV holders (who in their view may have picked up bad habits elsewhere), others don't do much training and only take on existing PCV holders, and some may be less keen on having trainees working closely with instructors during Covid.

Depending on just where in Sussex you are, there will be some people who have been laid off from jobs (PCV driving or otherwise) at, or related to, Gatwick Airport, and it's hard to say if or when airports will be back to normal. Similarly, most coach operators are largely down to just school contracts at the moment.

Would an approach to one of your former employer be worth making? (not clear if you have moved house since) - some operators have a rule that they won't take people back if they have left in the past, some are quite content to (unless there are specific reasons for that individual), some have a rule (written or otherwise) that you can leave and come back once but not twice. Bear in mind you'd probably end up back on the 'new starter' pay rate (albeit a 'new starter' with PCV licence may go on to a higher rate than a trainee) and be starting again for seniority. Ultimately, the worst they can do is say 'no'.

Quite what the future holds is not certain. Bus services are at present being propped up by the Government's Covid Bus Services Support Grant, which will end eventually. There was a government announcement last month of new funds for buses in the medium term, although it's not yet clear what proportions of this will go to consultants for feasibility studies on big infrastructure projects, actual infrastructure spending, or revenue support to run more bus journeys.

Some operators have privately made at least outline plans for a 'new normal' that involve fewer buses on the road (it's likely that full week office employment and town centre shopping won't get back to quite the same levels they were before lockdowns) and these will range from lower frequencies to route withdrawals and some depot closures. Some operators are already pursuing cuts to bus drivers' pay and conditions, and a few operators / depots have already closed during Covid.

As 'Andy Pacer' has said, there are chances to move upwards from bus driving - a common first step is a 'relief' role of some sort, driving most of the time and covering an office / supervisor / controller job for holidays / sickness / busy periods. This usually stands you in a good position when there's a vacancy for a similar role full time (the exact roles vary from one company to another.) Although there can be a lot of competition for this, and it's more of a step up in terms of status rather than take-home pay, as a driver who works a fair bit of overtime can take home more than a supervisor who's on a slightly higher hourly rate. And the people who get in to supervisory levels tend to stay in the business, so vacancies can be a case of waiting for someone to retire.

In some of the bigger plc's, there can be something of a divide between the 'supervisor' level roles that drivers can get in to and the 'manager' level roles that go to people from the group's graduate trainee scheme. Some are more progressive than others, Go-Ahead London (for example) offers drivers the chance to get on a 'pre promotion course' and there are people at depot manager level who have come through that path rather than the graduate entry path.

And in some of the smaller companies, the only way in to management is to be - or marry - one of the family that owns it, although there can be occasional opportunities in a small company where the owner doesn't have children (or doesn't have children who want to take the business on.)
 

Eyersey468

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Is it common for drivers to leave and return to the industry? I worked for one of the big groups a few years ago and then a smaller company until September last year.

Basically I joined the Police, but don’t think the jobs for me. Lots of paperwork and staying on late, coupled with a long commute.

One of the big companies is in my town. Are bus companies recruiting with the pandemic ongoing? Are people using buses? How safe is the bus industry generally?
We have a few drivers who left the industry and came back and are still recruiting, we had a load of former National Holidays drivers join us last year but as soon as coaching picks up again we suspect they will be gone.
 

RogerOut

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Bus driving isn’t the best paid jobs. But if your willing to get promoted, it’s possible. As already mentioned, relief controller is the next step up from driver. Then maybe a full time controller. It’s also possible to get into management roles, without being a graduate. Probably different in smaller independent companies.
 
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