I hope this finds you well.
I’d like to inform you about the challenges currently facing the entire coach and bus industry and how we are working to combat them to prioritise the delivery of high-quality services to you, parents and pupils.
I’ve no doubt you’re aware of the current HGV driver shortage problem in the UK. This is having a direct impact on the coach and bus industry resulting in a corresponding driver shortage that poses a potential risk to our service levels and, if the situation gets worse, could have more serious ramifications.
Drivers are being lured away to not only drive HGVs, but also to drive delivery vans for the likes of the big supermarkets and online retailers. The salaries and signing-on bonuses are at levels never seen before. Yesterday’s news regarding the potential merger of two of the big bus and coach operators is further evidence of a market going through change.
This comes at a time when the coach and bus industry, one of the hardest hit during the pandemic and multiple lockdowns, is just starting to recover from the re-opening of society with demand at peak levels, normally seen in the summer months, driven by pent up leisure, corporate and event work. The result is a significant imbalance of supply and demand that has driven prices to levels never seen before, across the country.
We have seen the knock-on effects through operators serving notice on school routes in favour of more lucrative work, but more acutely, we have had operators lose drivers and not be able to replace them, often at short notice. We have had to move quickly to find suitable cover to ensure children get to/from school safely.
Along with the effects of covid self isolation rules still lingering, the above has occurred at the exact same time as the start of new school year, with the spike in road traffic in September (due to the pandemic, not at this level since 2019) causing delays in arrivals at school in the morning. We have started to notice this settling in recent days, however. The Kura Control Centre team are ensuring all parent queries are fielded in a timely and effective manner to manage this.
During this challenging and developing situation, I want to let you know that we are working extremely hard with our operator partners to manage the current situation so that you and your parents and students are not impacted; we are speaking with hundreds of operators every week to ensure we minimise any risk to delivery. We are fortunate to work with a wide number of operators to help us find solutions, and thus far this is resulting in minimal disruption. That said, we strive to provide the highest levels of service and appreciate the patience you have shown during this time.
I will keep you informed as the situation develops but if you have any queries or concerns please let me know.