Wednesday 08 June 2022
As part of focused efforts to address the shortage of bus drivers in the island, the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure has reduced the minimum age for driving a bus, coach, taxi or private hire vehicle in the island - one of a package of measures driving the ongoing improvement in the recovery of bus service levels.
Through this urgent update to the law, made with the support of the Policy & Resources Committee, people aged 18 who have held a full category B licence for a minimum of 12 months can now apply for vacancies within the local public transport industry. This now mirrors the minimum age for driving a bus or coach in the UK. Previously the minimum age was 21 years and 20 years for a taxi or private hire car.
The combined impacts of Brexit and COVID have led to a significant shortage of bus, coach and taxi drivers in Guernsey, which reflects a similar trend more widely across the UK and Europe. High housing costs and restrictions on employment permits for UK and overseas workers have compounded the problem, making it especially difficult to attract new bus drivers, which has made it necessary for CT Plus to operate a reduced timetable over the last month or so.
In recent weeks, there have already been some encouraging indicators of positive progress with recruitment to the service. Driver numbers are beginning to increase again with around 7 new appointments in the last month as well as an increase in the number of enquiries about the vacant roles. There has also already been some interest from people who are eligible to drive with this new change in minimum age. On Tuesday 7th June, 18 bus services were able to be put back into the scheduled timetable.
In addition to assisting with the recruitment of drivers to the public bus service operated by CT Plus, this change in legislation should benefit the public transport industry as a whole, including other bus/coach companies and taxis.
Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, President of the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure, commented:
"We acted quickly and, although we knew there would be no single silver bullet solution, I'm glad that the measures we instigated are taking effect and bus services are now starting to be restored. We know the importance of maintaining a good level of bus service and as soon as we saw the difficulties in recruiting drivers and the impact that was having on services, we met with CT Plus and began to put in place solutions to attract both resident and non-resident bus drivers.
"Bus passenger numbers increased very significantly between 2013 and 2020, and although they were adversely affected by lockdowns and COVID border measures, passenger numbers rebounded fairly strongly as measures eased. It is critical that the level of service remains good so that it can continue to be a viable option for the travelling public. The more people that use the buses, the more we reduce traffic on our roads, pressure on parking infrastructure, air pollution and carbon emissions, whilst also improving the efficiency of our transport system for all road users."
Following a series of meetings with CT Plus at officer and political levels, the Committee has been working with the Committee for Home Affairs to look at improving the terms of employment permits and CT Plus has implemented an improved pay structure for bus drivers.