Driver shortage prompts bus taster sessions in Diss

Simonds Coaches is hoping to recruit more drivers, and talk of an industry shortage.''Pictured: Carl Lummis with some of the employees ANL-150325-145728009
Simonds Coaches is hoping to recruit more drivers, and talk of an industry shortage.''Pictured: Carl Lummis with some of the employees ANL-150325-145728009

A long-established coach company is offering potential drivers a rare chance to get behind the wheel of a bus as they search for employees to join their fleet.

Open days will be held by Simonds in Diss on April 11 and 12, which will begin at 10am.

Potential drivers will be given a presentation, shown around the facilities, and given the chance to get behind the wheel of a bus. A licence for driving a bus is not required to take part on the day.

Carl Lummis, operations manager, said up to ten people could be employed from the event, which he said would take them back to “full strength”.

A similar open day, held more than two years ago, saw four people hired.

The firm currently employs almost 100 people, 65 of which are drivers. They conduct regular bus services, day excursions, school runs, and coach hire.

He said there is a national shortage of bus drivers.

The reasons include lots of red tape and bureaucracy and that if people pay for training privately then the costs can be quite high.

Mr Lummis said: “But if people come to us for our training scheme we foot the bill.

“It is not as simple as sitting in a bus and taking a test.”

Mr Lummis, who has been at Simonds for 13 years, said once you obtained a Passenger Carrying Vehicles Licence (PCV), it would be a ‘career for life’ in the industry.

“Once you have that licence you will always have a job (in the trade),” he explained.

And what are the perks of working as a bus driver?

“The places you visit, and it is a very social job,” he said.

“You need good communication skills and good customer care skills, and it is one of those enjoyable jobs once you have started doing it.”