There are many sides to the coach industry. It provides charter and scheduled services across the UK and overseas, from day trips and holidays to intercity journeys. It also provides transport for local communities through contracts with Local Councils and Local Authorities. Coaches are also available for private hire. It is estimated that around 28,000 people work in the industry, in a wide range of jobs and are employed by approximately 3,200 coach operators.
Most cities and towns will have coach operators located in them. Some of the bigger operators run scheduled services across the length and breadth of the country. Coaches provide an important network of long distance, affordable travel and link many towns and cities across the UK via high frequency scheduled services, commuter services in and out of London and other major city centres plus there are feeder services to airports. However, the biggest part of the industry is organised coach tours and holiday travel. This accounts for some 60% of all coach travel in Great Britain.
The bus industry provides scheduled transport services in cities, towns and villages across the UK. According to the Department of Transport over 4.6 billion journeys were made by bus in 2008/09 (with the majority of these being bus journeys) and figures have been increasing steadily every year since 2000. It is estimated that there are around 212,000 people working in the bus industry. A large number of these people are employed as bus drivers.
Within the bus industry there are also job roles for customer service workers, engineering and maintenance staff and for those responsible for ensuring delivery of services, such as planners, staff supervisors and administrators.
Passenger services staff are employed to provide information to passengers at depots and bus stations. Usual entry positions include customer services agent or passenger support assistant. Progression from these roles can be into supervisor positions, and further to operational support, such as planning, performance management or marketing and sales. Drivers can be taken on as trainees, where they are given the required training to obtain their passenger carrying vehicle licence and their certificate of professional competence, both of which are required to drive a bus commercially.
Operations and service delivery staff ensure the smooth running of bus services, making sure that they are providing enough services and at suitable times. They also have to make sure that enough staff are available and that buses are maintained to provide safe and efficient journeys. Engineering tends to sit as a more separate area of work in the bus industry, although there are opportunities for engineering staff to move quite easily into operations and service delivery roles.
Careers in the bus & coach industry can be grouped into four main areas:
• Passenger services
• Operations and service delivery
• Engineering and maintenance
Drivers provide the most important service in the coach industry. Their driving can affect the way a customer sees the whole coach company. Some coach drivers work on regular routes, whereas others can be required to drive away from home on trips and holidays. Passenger services staff are employed to provide information to passengers at coach stations and other pick up places. Customer service agents may take bookings, sell tickets and provide advice and information to passengers. Tour guides usually travel on a coach during trips or holidays and help with planning and providing information, and with loading and unloading the coach.
Operations and service delivery staff ensure the smooth running of coach services, including making sure that any trips or holidays on offer are financially viable for the company to provide. They also have to make sure that enough staff are available and that buses are maintained to provide safe and efficient journeys.
Engineering tends to sit as a more separate area of work in the coach industry, although there are opportunities for engineering staff to move quite easily into operations and service delivery job roles.
The skills most valuable to the coach industry are good communication and customer service, strong organisational skills and an ability to work well in a team. It is becoming increasingly helpful, although not essential, to speak a foreign language.
Driving is also a key skill, as a large proportion of the industry is employed in driving roles. However it is recognised that it is not a simple process to gain the skills required for driving coaches and so some industry organisations are prepared to take on trainees and provide the necessary training.
In the bus industry, most employers will look for someone who works well with customers as many of the roles are front facing. A good level of communication, numeracy and literacy are required with a foreign language also becoming an increasingly helpful skill. A flexible approach to working is desirable as there may be last minute changes or you may have to cover someone else’s shift.
An awareness of health and safety is useful, however companies will train you in their own health and safety procedures.