Recruitment drive to tackle cancelled bus journeys and route closures launched in Carlisle

It's hoped more drivers will reduce strain on the industry's cancelled journeys and route closures. Credit: ITV Border.

A proposal to tackle cancelled bus journeys and the closure of local routes has been launched in Carlisle.

It's estimated there are currently around 10 thousand vacancies for bus and coach drivers around the country.

Plans to speed up driver training and lower the age at which drivers can take longer journeys aims to bring more young people into the industry.

Coach driver Rhiannon Black said: "I think it will bring a lot of young people in because they can see places that they wouldn't necessarily go to.

"Every day is different, and a lot of young people don't want to be stuck in the same job day in, day out, doing the same thing."

At the moment 18 to 20-year-olds can only drive up to can only drive up to 31 miles, even if they've been fully trained.

During the visit Mr Opperman launched a consultation into the idea of lowering the age for drivers taking routes of over 31 miles to 18.

"It addresses the bus driver and coach driver shortage that we know exists.

"We're going to get more services, were going to get more reliable services, we're going to get young people into a long-term job.

"We believe it is a good example of the industry and government working together and hopefully for the benefit of the customer and the passengers on an ongoing basis."

Industry experts say this shortage is placing a strain on the industry, contributing to cancelled journeys and route closures as operators try to best allocate scarce resources.

Graham Vilder, chief executive at the Confederation for Passenger Transport said: "brining more drivers into the industry and closing that drivers shortage will enable us to put on even more reliable services in future.

"It will also enable us to meet the demand for new and additional services, which at the moment get held up because there simply aren't enough drivers to operate them.

"People can expect more reliable services as a result of these measures.

"They can also expect to see more services in the future.

Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh MP, has today also set out the party’s plans for a better bus network across England.

They have pledged to allow every community across the country to take back control of local bus services.Labour says their plan could create and save up to 1,300 vital bus routes and allow 250 million more passenger journeys per year compared to today’s failed system.

It will also aims to bring an end to the postcode lottery of bus services by providing safeguards over local networks across the country.

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