Services are being cancelled on a daily basis by nearly every operator and some are so desperate for drivers they are offering signing up bonuses of £4k for those with their PCV license. Services are suffering, company reputations are suffering, and customers are suffering. Winners are scarce.
Whilst it can't all be down to money, there's definitely a link between what the job entails and its remuneration.
Take a typical wage of £12 an hour. On a standard working week of 37.5 hours, this works out at just under £24k a year for the bus driver. Probably on a par salary-wise with thousands of low-level responsibility, average qualification office jobs around the county.
But other than a monetary comparison, how would they compare 'role' rise?
The office jockey doesn't have the lives of people in their hands every time they go to work.
The office jockey doesn't have to do split shifts or go in at weekends and bank holidays.
The office jockey doesn't have a brand's reputation at stake every time they open their mouth.
The office jockey doesn't spend their time at work in charge of an expensive company asset.
The responsibility of the two roles is poles apart yet the rewards are near enough the same. Which would you do if you had a choice?
I'm sure if bus company bosses could make the starting salary £35k they would - but solving an immediate problem only creates another potentially fatal one.
Fares would have to go up significantly to pay the new wages, so fewer people would get the bus as it becomes less financially appealing. Investment would then decrease across the board as profits are hit, so the bus becomes less appealing. A stonewall vicious circle.
I've no idea what the answer is but one thing's for certain, without drivers the whole industry is totally f***ed.