Welsh bus operator blames DVLA for 'unacceptable' delays to processing licences

The DVLA says delays to applications is due to industrial action and social distancing requirements.

A south Wales bus and coach operator has criticised the DVLA for "unacceptable" delays in processing vocational driver licence applications and the ability to book bus driving tests.

Adventure Travel says the significant delays have resulted in driver shortages and, on occasions, disrupted services. 

The firm says it has had to wait up to three months for provisional vocational licences for new trainees.

The DVLA says it is aware of the impact that delays are having on some businesses, but says it is prioritising HGV provisional licences.

An HGV driver shortage is hitting deliveries across the UK, leading to some business paying bonuses. Credit: Steve Parsons / PA

Adam Keen, managing director of Adventure Travel said: "The problem is having a detrimental effect on the public transport industry which has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, adjusting services to suit passenger numbers and maintaining stringent cleaning practices to ensure safe travel.

"Now that we are returning to pre-pandemic levels, we are recruiting for a range of driver positions but are struggling to fill them due to the vast backlog at the DVLA.

"This is at a time when we need drivers the most." 

The DVLA says it has taken measures to ensure the safety of workers and has followed official guidance. Credit: PA

A spokesperson for the DVLA said ongoing strike action and social distancing is limiting the number of applications they can process.

“We are aware of the potential impact of processing delays at DVLA on drivers applying for or renewing entitlement to drive larger vehicles.

 “We are prioritising HGV provisional licence applications which are being issued in around two weeks, and HGV licence applications which are currently being issued in around four weeks.

 “To assist bus and lorry drivers there is an ongoing scheme to issue 1 year licences to drivers aged 45 and over without a D4 if a driver is unable to get a D4 medical examination and has not previously been issued with a 1 year licence under the scheme.

 “Where a driver passes their bus or lorry driving test we are able to issue licences within five days of the DVSA notifying us electronically as this service, like all our other online services, has not been impacted by the pandemic and is running as normal and without delay.

 “There are delays in processing paper applications due to ongoing industrial action and social distancing requirements, which means that we have fewer staff than usual on site.

 “It’s disappointing that the Public and Commercial Services Union is choosing to continue with industrial action and targeting services that have the greatest negative impact on the public and businesses.”

A DVSA spokesperson said: “We are committed to providing driving tests to support the bus and coach industry.

“Bus and coach driving tests form part of our vocational test service along with HGV tests. The type of vocational test booked is decided by trainers in response to customer demand.

“Our current work to increase HGV testing to help reduce the national lorry driver shortage is benefitting bus and coach test availability.

“We’ve already increased the number of vocational tests from 2,000 a week pre-COVID to 3,000 by overtime and allocating extra employees into testing.”

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