Bus operators struggling to maintain services amid driver shortage

Transport officials are scrabbling to maintain bus services after a number of operators handed their contracts back.

The ZetTrans committee today (Wednesday) heard the contract issues were “ongoing” and could hit the £3.4m service with extra costs.

Chairwoman Moraig Lyall said staff were “working hard, paddling beneath the water, to ensure these services are all kept afloat and continue seamlessly”.

“It’s an area to keep an eye on but not a major concern, as far as I’m aware,” she said.

Shetland South councillor Robbie McGregor expressed “concern and sympathy” with the operators.

A number of services needed to be retendered in August when Graham Robinson, of Robinson Transport retired.

Mr Robinson agreed to continue operating one of the school services, as the SIC was struggling to find another operator to take it on.

The public services all found new operators – but there have since been others handed back.

It is understood a driver shortage means some operators are reluctant to continue running the services they have held previously.

Speaking earlier this week, Mrs Lyall acknowledged there was an issue with a driver availability.

“I’m aware of a number of operators who say finding an adequate number of drivers is not easy,” she told The Shetland Times.

“Obviously that does have an impact on their ability to keep the same number of contracts going.”

Mrs Lyall said there had been a number of issues behind their decision, including the increase in fuel prices, but that driver availability was the main current concern.

“Staff in the transport department are working really hard to get all the different contracts retendered and keep all the services going as they currently are.

“As far as I’m aware, the ones which have been retendered have all found new operators to take them on.

“But then that has been followed by another few coming back – so it’s an ongoing situation.

“I think the department are still hopeful that they will be able to keep the network running in its current form.

“Whether that’s the same in the future I don’t know, but at the moment I think they are reasonably optimistic.”

The SIC tendered for school bus services in July but posted a notice last week to retender two of the contracts, which are due to take effect in December. 


Add Your Comment
  • Mr ian Tinkler

    • September 20th, 2023 12:40

    Where are all our HGV drivers? You can look no further than the hills. Viking Energy is soaking up Shetland’s skilled drivers, which was depictable and predictably ignored by our past and a few present morons on the SIC. (no surprises there)

    • John Iverson

      • September 21st, 2023 14:40

      I hate it when things are depictable. I would rather have everything not be depicted.

      • Mr ian Tinkler

        • September 21st, 2023 23:14


        Depictable is an adjective that is used to describe something that can be portrayed or represented visually or in a way that can be easily understood or perceived by others. It means that something has the potential to be visually depicted or described accurately.

    • Iain Hunter

      • September 21st, 2023 21:36

      A bus and truck is a different license, you can hold either one or both, could it be a new career path for you ian

  • Michael Heavey

    • September 21st, 2023 18:03

    It’s more complex than it looks. When it was single contracts often driven by the contractor things were better. As long as the Council give out additional contracts to the same operator it means employing expensive drivers. They expect profit but the cost of employing a driver (s) instead of doing it themselves is prohibitive. The Council should do it.

  • Dave lloyd

    • September 25th, 2023 20:12

    Shortage of bus drivers but no bus driver jobs advertised ?


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