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September 26 2018
By Jessica Barton

Jessica writes for routeone, Group Tourism & Travel, and is the Editor of Coach Drivers Club News


The ultimate coach experience

What factors are essential for making coach drivers happy and satisfied on the job? Volvo’s latest survey reveals all

The most important aspect of all for drivers of coaches is a high level of road safety.

Among many others, this is just one of the results of Volvo Buses’ new survey, released on Thursday (20 September), with an insight into the minds of coach drivers revealed.

Volvo’s survey provides an insight into the minds of coach drivers

Carried out with research institute Kantar SIFO, the survey received responses from over 1,000 coach and long-distance bus drivers throughout Europe, with one of the highest number of participants coming from the UK.

Niklas Orre, VP Retail Segment at Volvo Buses, says: “Operators’ ability to recruit efficient and capable drivers is a key factor in the success of their businesses. Confident, competent drivers drive safely and economically and give passengers a positive experience.

“For this reason, drivers’ opinions play an incredibly important role in our ongoing development of the products and services that help to make their work easier.

“The survey we have just carried out is one of the tools we use to gain an up-to-date understanding of how they regard their situation.”

Passenger appreciation

Taking into consideration all of the responses, having happy passengers is deemed the best thing about a coach driver’s job, with 44% of participants opting for this over ‘the driving itself’ (29%), ‘seeing beautiful places’ (15%), and ‘exciting roads’ (12%).

However, while 28% of those from the UK opted for happy passengers, it was ‘the driving itself’ that received the most from these drivers with 34%. ‘Happy passengers’, in fact, came third, after ‘seeing beautiful places’.

Passengers seem to be generally satisfied with the drivers’ performance, says Volvo, with a total of 63% of drivers saying that they rarely or never came across angry or rude passengers. On the contrary, passengers often show their appreciation of drivers – nine out of 10 had been given a spontaneous round of applause by passengers and around 30% said that this happened frequently.

There is a clear difference, however, when it comes to the driver’s age. It seems that the connection between driver and passengers changes with the driver’s age; the older the driver, the more positive the passenger response. An example of this is that older drivers say they get more applause and encounter fewer unpleasant passengers compared to younger drivers, says Volvo.

Happy drivers

Working hours, geographical working area, managers, colleagues, and training opportunities are all very important when choosing an employer, according the responses. But it is the vehicle you get to drive that is the most important consideration for coach drivers, with 67% of those surveyed opting for this answer. For UK drivers, a ‘flexible work schedule’ received as many votes as ‘the coach I get to drive’.

What is encouraging is that 85% of coach drivers voted that they are happy with their job and that they would recommend others to join the profession.

When it comes to the European country drivers most enjoyed driving in, where the coach drivers feel they get best service, and where they can get the best food on the road, Germany received the most votes in all these categories.

Safety first

Drivers were also asked what they feel they need more information or knowledge about to do their job.

The survey reveals that drivers want to learn more about safety features and driver support systems, as 52% feel a need for getting more information about driver assistance systems. More knowledge about safety features received 40% of the votes, while safety driver training received 34%.

To be able to maintain happy passengers, 38% of drivers also want to learn more about how to run such utilities as kitchens and on-board infotainment.

When asked about different characteristics of the vehicles, participants rated safety as a top priority, closely followed by handling/manoeuvrability and visibility – two areas closely connected to safety.

“The fact that drivers put road safety at the top of their list demonstrates their sense of responsibility and concern for passengers. For us at Volvo Buses it is naturally very gratifying that our most important guiding principle is also the highest priority for the people who use our coaches every day,” says Mr Orre.

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Since coach drivers are often hailed as ‘the face of the business’ since they are, after all, dealing with operators’ customers on a day-to-day basis, it’s important to gain an understanding of their needs and experiences.

Surveys such as this are therefore invaluable for finding out what makes them tick.

With such positive responses, including 85% of coach drivers voting that they are happy with their job and that they would recommend the job to others, one has to wonder why so few people are choosing it as a profession.

The industry as a whole has a responsibility to promote coach driving as worthwhile and rewarding career to young people and those outside of the sector. Sharing the results of this survey is one step towards that.

Download the full report at j.mp/2xxFmio



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