Driver shortages continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing the bus industry today.
Operators are trying to address the problem by bringing new blood into the profession, but it is also critical to retain drivers. After all, prevention is better than the cure.
Mix of duty types
To do this positively, operators should not lose sight of providing a mix of duty types that appeal to different groups of drivers. To keep drivers on board, duties should be kept to two or three pieces of work and split shifts should be avoided at weekends.
Software can help with improving efficiencies and enable network planners to create schedules that do not detrimentally affect another part of the bus operation’s efficiency chain. With tight schedules that are workable, operators are more likely to create driver-friendly duties straight out of the box, rather than having to be manually adjusted.
Improve driver engagement
Improving engagement is also important to retain drivers. Are drivers spoken to only when things go wrong? How easy is it for a driver to raise a concern?
Regular performance reviews are a great way to keep staff informed of their progress and provide a continuous feedback loop where managers are not left wondering if they will have another bout of resignations this week. By using operational data to facilitate these conversations operators can put interventions and strategies in place sooner and more effectively manage their drivers.
Connecting multiple data sources
For any review to be successful, operators will want to see a complete picture of a driver’s performance, including their training records, customer feedback, their telematics Red-Amber-Green (RAG) score for driving behaviour, total time spent driving, lost mileage incidents and punctuality information.
But for many bus operators this data resides in multiple systems. These datasets should be connected into one unified platform to remove the need for data consolidation. The reporting screen should be interactive so operators can drill down into the metrics to interrogate the data and in doing so remove the need for separate analysis to understand the root cause of any issues.
As operators work in time-pressured environments – and with some having 1,000-plus drivers, the output needs to be simple and visual so that it can be easily understood by both reviewing managers and drivers. And for fairness and consistency, this report should be standardised, and the same metrics tracked and managed across all drivers.
By having key metrics on one dashboard operators gain a single source of truth which assures data integrity and provides information in the most efficient way.
Opening communication channels
Another point to consider is how effectively operators communicate with staff to help them manage their home life around varying shift patterns. Operators need to find smarter ways to keep drivers informed. By leveraging technology such as a driver app, they can share useful information quickly which, in turn, connects drivers to the business and helps them feel part of the organisation.
By adjusting duties that may be putting drivers off and proactively using data to improve engagement, operators can better manage their staff which, in turn, will help increase morale and lower labour turnover.
How we can help
With over 30 years’ experience in software and consultancy services, EPM Group has comprehensive knowledge of the passenger transport industry and well-established software that can integrate multiple data sources into one unified platform to deliver a 360-degree view of your operation.
The EPM Insights solution empowers you with actionable management information on your network performance, supporting you to react to both the changing nature of demand and to help shape your future network.
The OmniDAS solution is a cloud-native depot allocation system for real-time driver and vehicle management. Used worldwide for managing day-to-day resources and handling unexpected changes, it is configured to your unique working practices and ensures services are delivered safe, legally and cost-effectively.