Bus drivers offered £4,000 sign-on bonus as First Glasgow grapples with recruitment crisis

Bus drivers are being offered a £4,000 sign-on bonus as Scotland’s biggest operator grapples with a “very challenging” shortage which has forced service cuts across Glasgow and central Scotland.

First Glasgow today announced the extra inducement to holders of passenger-carrying vehicle (PCV) licences as it “ramped up” its recruitment drive.

The move comes a month after The Scotsman revealed the firm was having to make further cuts to services in Glasgow, Falkirk, Livingston and Stirling because of driver shortages.

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Vacancies exist at its Scotstoun and Caledonia depots in Glasgow, as well as in Dumbarton, at Blantyre in South Lanarkshire and Overtown in North Lanarkshire.

First Glasgow head of operations Paul Clark said: “We are making every effort to attract new entrants." Picture: First Glasgow/Warren Media

First Glasgow said it was short of 17 per cent of the drivers needed to run a full service and had been forced to make short-notice cancellations and reduce frequencies.

It is offering the bonus in two parts – £2,000 after six months and the same again after a year.

The move comes on top of First last month boosting its pay and conditions for trainee drivers.

Its £11 an hour starter rate of increased to £12.85, with a further rise to follow.

First said its drivers could earn more than £30,000 a year with overtime.

First Glasgow head of operations Paul Clark said: “We have an active recruitment campaign underway and are making every effort to attract new entrants to the industry with flexible working patterns for drivers in Glasgow.

“People are keen to become bus drivers and serve their local communities, so we are working to make that process as easy as possible and doing everything we can to attract new talent to the industry.

“Now with the launch of improved new starter rates, flexible working patterns, the influx of new state-of-the-art zero emissions electric vehicles and our new PCV licence holder bonus scheme, there has never been a more exciting time to join.”

First has blamed the shortage on training being delayed by the Covid lockdowns, long waits for new licences being issued and the “hottest” employment market for 20 years prompting some would-be drivers opting for other jobs.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK - Scotland, which represents operators, said vacancies had doubled since 2019 to average 12.5 per cent across the country.

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