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FirstGroup, the UK transportation giant and FTSE 250 company known for its immense bus fleet, plans to spend upwards of £73 million on more than 350 new, environmentally-friendly buses. Although their purchase plans will not necessarily change bus driver training or hiring, the news is still welcome to the industry as a whole. FirstGroup’s commitment to replacing its ageing fleet will be a boost to bus manufacturing in the UK.

The Telegraph says Northern Ireland’s Wrightbus will produce the majority of FirstGroup’s upgraded fleet. The new vehicles will include technologically advanced engines that meet or exceed the emissions guidelines for a number of cities it services. FirstGroup currently runs about 6,300 buses throughout the UK; the company has already replaced roughly 2,200 vehicles over the last five years at a cost of £385 million.

The investment is quite a turnaround for a company that was struggling with its financials not too long ago. They appear to be in a stronger position to do well in Europe even among continued calls from investors for FirstGroup to divest itself of its American school bus operations. Regardless of how all of that plays out, all indications suggest the company is moving in the right direction toward a much healthier financial future.

That could mean more bus driver jobs should they decide to expand their service area or replace routes that were previously abandoned. And, of course, turnover among older drivers will keep demand for younger workers at near current levels. This is good news for anyone considering undergoing bus driver training in order to earn a PCV licence.

Stronger Mass Transport

FirstGroup’s decision to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in vehicle upgrades is good news for them and vehicle manufacturers. However, it is also good for the mass transit industry as well, reminding competitors that the economy is strengthening and there is room for mass transit to expand. Stronger mass transit across the UK would benefit everyone through reduced emissions and less traffic congestion.

We would not dare speculate as to where FirstGroup will be five years from now, but we can say the transport industry is in desperate need of new drivers right now. Whether you are talking about FirstGroup or one of their competitors, there are not enough new drivers coming through to account for ongoing retirements and business expansion. Bus companies are pulling out all the stops to encourage young people to undergo bus driver training so they can start working.

Here at the HGV Training Centre, bus driver training is just one of the options we offer. We train drivers to operate school buses, city buses, tour buses, and national coaches. Completion of our programme prepares a student to take the practical skills test necessary to earn that coveted PCV licence. With licence in hand, our former students can begin looking for work as skilled professional bus drivers.

Training is what we do. We can train you to be a professional too.

Sources:

The Telegraph – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/11636717/FirstGroup-to-spend-73m-on-green-buses-in-boost-to-UK-manufacturing.html

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