A coach driver has spoken of co-driving for 21 hours to find his accommodation on a school trip was a tent, and a shower block shared with students.
The driver, identified only as Steve, was backed up on the BBC radio programme You and Yours by a female driver, who says her rest was expected to be taken in a garden shed, sharing showers with male coach drivers at the resort.
“We hear these stories every week,” BUSK’s Pat Harris told presenter Peter White. “They’ve got to share rooms with other drivers, or use a room no paying guest would be expected to use. One driver had to sleep on a mattress in a roof void in which he couldn’t stand up, and his co-driver had to climb over him to reach another mattress.
“Coach drivers are doing a really important job. They need a quiet room on their own so they can get some rest.”
The Confederation of Passenger Transport’s Director of Communications and Digital Services, Chris Nice, told the programme he was “shocked” by the stories: “This is unacceptable. Tour operators need to insist on a comfortable, clean place to rest.”
In response to Peter White asking ‘who is responsible?’ Chris Nice said: “We would appeal to all group travel organisers to stipulate that there is suitable accommodation for the driver. This should happen when they are discussing contracts.
“If the accommodation isn’t adequate, we would expect the driver to speak to their manager in the UK or direct to the hotel, and ask to be moved to a suitable room, but in any event, these instances must be reported back to coach operators and tour organisers.”
Pat Harris, whose Nightcap campaign highlights this issue, said schools and teachers have their part to play: “Schools booking with tour companies would not think to ask about the driver’s room. But they need to ask how drivers will be accommodated when they make their booking.”
Pat said tour companies are, in fact, legally obliged to book driver accommodation in which the driver can sleep undisturbed.
Bus and Coach Buyer contacted the CPT to confirm that they are aware of some of the appalling conditions that drivers have had to sleep in, what advice did it give to its members and did they support the work of the Nightcap campaign?
Andy Warrender, CPT’s Coaching and Tourism Manager said: “CPT supports all initiatives designed to make coaches and coach travel safer for passengers and the industry’s workforce. Our recently published online guides, ‘Long Distance Coach Travel and Guidance for Drivers,’ includes detailed and practical advice for those planning and undertaking long distance or overseas coach tours.
“The guide also looks at everyday practices that coach operators can incorporate in order to make sure that their drivers, especially those working away from base, are fit for work and able to perform to the best of their ability.”
Nightcap’s campaign adds to these recommendations by specifying that drivers should have single-occupancy accommodation, that they should not have to share facilities with children and that they should have a proper room and bed.
In the section entitled ‘Considerations for staff working away from base’, it states: “Where drivers are away on tour or working extended periods away from base, you should always ensure that adequate accommodation and facilities are provided for drivers to take their required rest periods”
It continues: “Accommodation and facilities for resting should be clean, comfortable and they should have easy access to food, washrooms and toilets. They should be quiet enough to allow rest periods to be undisturbed; the best rooms in the world are of little use if they’re the in a location which doesn’t allow people to sleep. If these facilities are offered as self-catering, drivers should have access to alternative facilities for meals; they may not be able to cook for themselves!”
Long Distance Coach Travel and Guidance for Drivers is available for members to view and download from the CPT Compliance Manual. Members may wish to include the Guidance for Drivers into their own driver and staff handbooks.
You can hear the interview online at https://goo.gl/Z6eQGg. It begins at around 7:10secs from the start.
What’s the worst room you’ve ever had? Does your company have a policy in place to safeguard drivers? Drop us a line – firstname.lastname@example.org