GMB respond to Loughborough University report into bus driver fatigue

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GMB call for Bus Drivers 'Bill of Rights' following Loughborough University report into bus driver fatigue shows 36% of respondents had 'close call' due to fatigue in last 12 months

We see the need more than ever to bring bus services back in house to TFL as it seems private companies are more concerned about profits than workers and public safety, says GMB London

GMB has stepped up its call for a Bus Drivers ‘Bill of Rights’ to help limit the factors that cause bus driver fatigue right across the UK bus network including London’s outsourced bus system. This comes after Loughborough University released a report on bus driver fatigue which concluded that fatigue is present among London bus drivers. [See notes to editors for Bus Driver ‘Bill of Rights’ and link to report]

The report showed that 21% of survey respondents indicated that they have to fight sleepiness at least 2-3 times a week, and 36% of respondents had a ‘close call’ due to fatigue in the past 12 months.

The report found there was a wide range of factors that contributed towards driver fatigue. These factors include: shift work and shift irregularity, sleep quality and quantity, overall health of drivers, a disciplinary culture, stress and mental overload whilst driving.

Earlier this year a study by GMB London Region found that 1,062 people were killed or seriously injured in TfL bus collisions since 2014 [See notes to editors for GMB press release]. At GMB Congress this year a motion was passed calling for an independent investigation into the 2016 Croydon tram crash after a safety audit of the fatigue risk management system operated by FirstGroup, the company which manages the tram system through Tram Operations Limited on behalf of TfL, was withheld from the tram crash investigators. [See notes to editors for copy of GMB Congress motion]

Steve Garelick, GMB Regional Organiser said:

“When a respected University provides such an important insight it proves that previously voiced concerns are valid.

“Decisive action is needed to change the culture at Transport for London to make the safe operation of buses by the outsourced private for-profit operators the top priority.

“Safe operation of buses require drivers rested and with a safe system of work and well-maintained vehicles, all items clearly spelled out in the London Bus Drivers’ ‘Bill of Rights’.

“We see the need more than ever to bring bus services back in house to TFL as it seems private companies are more concerned about profits than workers and public safety.”


Contact: Steve Garelick 07967 763980 or GMB London Press Office 07970 114762


Notes to Editors

1] Loughborough University: Bus Driver Fatigue – Final Report


2] “London Bus Drivers' ‘Bill of Rights’:

1.   The Right to a safe work schedule without any forced overtime or loss of pay

2.   The Right to a decent and proper rest break in the working day

3.   The Right to drive a safe and well-maintained vehicle

4.   The Right to clean, serviced toilet and rest facilities on all bus routes

5.   The Right to report safety concerns without fear of retribution from TfL or employers

6.   The Right, when seriously ill and covered by a doctor's note, to not be harassed into coming into work until fit to do so

7.   The Right to relevant and timely safety training

8.   The Right to drive without being forced to answer radio messages and texts from Controllers whilst in motion

9.   The Right to have all company rules in writing and clearly displayed

10. The Right to be treated with dignity and respect by our employers, TfL and the public.


3] 1,062 people killed or seriously injured in London bus collisions since 2014 (28 February 2019)

4] GMB Congress Motion



Congress backs calls for the Mayor of London to appoint an independent investigation to review why TfL failed to supply critical tram safety evidence to the Croydon Tram Crash Investigators, the Office of Road & Rail and the British Transport Police.

On 9 November 2016, the Croydon Tram operated by First Group Tram Operations Limited overturned while overspeeding near the Sandilands Junction, killing 7 and injuring 62 passengers (19 seriously). One of the dead was a GMB Southern member on his way to work.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch Report issued on 7 December 2017 and updated on 26 October 2018 identified a number of precursors to the crash, highlighting Driver Fatigue and First Group TOL’s management of this vital safety performance practice as “not in line with standard industry practice” and that “there was significant scope for improvement.” 

An Audit of First Group TOL’s Fatigue Management System carried out by TfL in June 2017 identified a number of areas where First Group TOL needed to make substantial improvements, but TfL’s conclusions were kept confidential and not sent to the Investigators, Regulator and British Transport Police until February 2018 and then, only after the Audit’s contents were released on social media by a campaigner.

Congress wants an independent investigation into the safety culture and practices at TFL and the outsourced contractors running transport undertakings in London and to further review why the Fatigue Audit audits were not sent to the RAIB, ORR and British Transport Police. The link between long hours and deaths and injuries to the travelling public was proved by the findings into the Clapham junction rail disaster when 35 people were killed and 484 injured due to excessive hours of work. It is truly alarming that this lesson has not been heeded by TFL and the outsourced contractors running transport undertakings in London.

Unless there is a root and branch change in culture at TFL more people will be killed and injured by outsourced contractors running trams and busses in London. Congress will not tolerate this complacent culture.


Southern Region