NEW! UKCOA Driver Training Academy

The UK Coach Operator Association (UKCOA)  are delighted to announce the official launch of the UKCOA Driver Academy on Monday, 27th February at the National Driving Centre, The TA Barracks, Mitcham Road, Croydon CR0 3RU.

The event will be launched by Emma Gilson and Richard Jackman from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). UKCOA Board Members Mark Anderson and Andy Palmer will also say a few words of welcome and give a brief presentation on what is like to be a coach driver.

The event will also be attended by Laurence Bolton from our partner training provider The National Driving Centre, who will go through actual training programme, from medical to theory to practical to CPC.

Finally, there should be a number of prospective clients who are keen to become coach drivers, who will be able to listen to the introductions and look over some vehicles supplied by members.

It is hoped that once launched, the UKCOA will be able to hold regional events around the UK.

There has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes to get this off the ground. Mark Anderson and Andy Palmer have led the working group with assistance from the other UKCOA members and Industry Partners who have been involved.


London – Reduction in Collisions following speed limit changes

In March 2020, TfL introduced a  20mph speed limit on all of its roads within the central London Congestion Charging zone as part of its Vision Zero commitment to eliminate death and serious injury on the capital’s roads by 2041. Currently over half of London’s roads have a 20mph speed limit. TfL is now working to lower speeds on 220km of its roads by 2024.

Since the lower speeds were introduced, TfL have been monitoring their effectiveness and have now released new data that shows a significant reduction in the number of collisions. In summary, the number of collisions has reduced by 25 per cent (from 406 to 304), and collisions resulting in death or serious injury have reduced by 25 per cent (from 94 to 71).  Collisions involving people walking have decreased by 63 per cent (from 124 to 46).

Will Norman, London’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner, said: “Sadly more than 4,000 people are killed and seriously injured on London’s roads every year. Lowering speeds is one of the most important things we can do to reduce road danger and make it easier and safer for people to walk, cycle and use public transport, creating a safer, greener London for everyone.”

UKCOA Support All Party Parliamentary Group Appeal for Ukraine

The UK Coach Operator Association (UKCOA) is proud to be supporting the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Road Passenger Transport Industry (RPTI) appeal for buses and coaches for Ukraine.

The RPTI have recently established contacts with a group organising the transportation of bus and coach vehicles to be converted into mobile medical centres to support those injured and in need of medical attention in Ukraine. However, there is an urgent need for sufficient vehicles to be donated to allow the conversions to take place. Transportation to Ukraine is being organised by Network Rail.

Peter Bradley, Managing Director of the UKCOA said “We have sent out an appeal to our members to support this cause. If any operator has a bus or coach that they are preparing to dispose of, we would be grateful if they could consider donating it to this cause. There are many many people in Ukraine who are in need or urgent medical care, and can no longer access it because buildings and equipment have been destroyed”.

Paul Sainthouse, Managing Director of Dawsongroup bus and coach and convenor of the RPTI said “We are grateful to the UKCOA for their support. This is a great way for the bus and coach industry to show its solidarity with the people of Ukraine who find themselves caught up in this conflict. We have worked long and hard to come up with a plan that will work in getting these vehicles modified, equipped and transported to Ukraine. All we need now are some vehicles to work on”.

Any operator who has a vehicle they can donate, please contact Peter Bradley at [email protected] in the first instance.

Driver Recruitment and Succession Planning

According to some UKCOA members recently, the issue of coach driver recruitment seems to have eased just a little. They are ‘just managing’ especially if cover is provided using office-based staff, typically for school runs. However, this is the winter period where there are not so many coach hires and work is just a little bit calmer. But spring is just around the corner and if last year is anything to go by the phone will start ringing just that little bit more often and enquires will start coming in via your web comment page or email.

Last year many coach operators were heard to say that if it was not for the shortage of drivers, they could have covered so much more work. Many had vehicles sitting idle just because they did not have anyone to drive them. Others used all available staff with a PCV licence to drive, more often than they would have liked. One of our members spent the whole of August catching up on paperwork that he simply could not get done during the May to July rush as he was out driving.

So, what can we do practically?

Firstly, make a proper assessment of exactly how many extra drivers you need. Full or part time? If it is the latter which are the days you are most short? There are some people out there who may only want to drive at certain times of the year, or during the day, so don’t be afraid to be specific with your requirements. You may get some surprises.

Secondly when you have worked out what your requirements are, think about how to advertise. An advert in the local paper or trade magazine may work, but is this where prospective drivers are likely to look? What about using social media? Facebook or even LinkedIn? There may be individuals looking for a career change who until they read your ‘offering’ have not even considered driving. Then you have to consider whether you have got the opportunity to train them if they do not have a PCV licence. If that is something you cannot offer, is there a follow operator or agency who would train them on your behalf?

Depending on where you are located, word or mouth can also be effective. Let your team know you are on the lookout for drivers. Maybe offer a bonus to those who successfully introduce a new driver to your business to make it worth their while.

Also look at your remuneration. Money is important, but not necessarily everything that an individual is looking out for. What are your facilities like? Does each driver have their own locker and somewhere decent to eat? This may seem all very basic, but it can be important and shows you care. Holidays are another consideration; how much can they have and what level of remuneration do they get while they are away. Increasingly the traditional ways of viewing these issues are not necessarily what prospective employees are used to in other industries.

None of this is easy and many will have tried these ideas without success. We don’t have all the answers and recruitment can be a hit and miss experience. However, it is something that the industry is going to have to get better at doing; a good proportion of existing coach drivers will be retiring in the next ten years and we need to make sure that there is a steady stream of new recruits to replace them.

The UKCOA has set up a “Driver Academy” and there will be some exciting developments to announce in the next few weeks. Let’s make sure that we keep the whole question of driver recruitment as one of the key issues the industry needs to address, all year round.