Why the shortage of bus and coach drivers in Europe is more serious than you might think.
The bus and coach sector’s post-pandemic boom has increased the shortage of drivers.
Most operators are facing severe, or very severe, difficulties filling positions. The problem is particularly acute for regional bus transport, scheduled long distance and tourism coach services.
What is even more concerning is the fact that Europe has an ageing bus and coach driver population: 41% of bus and coach drivers are over 55 years old.
Without action to attract and retain drivers, Europe’s shortage of bus and coach drivers could more than double by 2028, jeopardising mobility networks. Tens of thousands of bus and coach drivers will retire in the next few years, while the rate of newcomers is significantly lower.
A shortage of bus and coach drivers will also harm Europe’s CO₂ reduction ambitions, slowing down the shift from private cars to collective passenger mobility.
The “school-to-wheel” gap is a key barrier to attracting new drivers.
The minimum age for bus and coach drivers with full training should be set at 21. For national journeys, EU Member States should be able to establish the minimum driving age at 18 and enable the mutual recognition of similar minimum age laws in other Members states.
With high licence, training and insurance costs, becoming a driver is also expensive and should be subsidised. For example, in Germany, the cost of getting a licence is over four times the minimum monthly wage.
Europe has an ageing population, with a labour pool that may not be sufficient to cover the driver shortage.
Facilitating the access of qualified drivers from third countries with a surplus of professional drivers could also help cover the gap.