Mayor sets out fairer deal for London’s bus drivers

21 December 2016
  •          New minimum drivers’ wage of £23,000


  •          Proposals end unfairness of drivers being paid less, simply for working on a different route


  •          Mayor of London says new proposals will ensure professional drivers are ‘treated fairly.’ 


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is today taking the first step towards fulfilling his election manifesto promise to provide a new fairer deal for London’s 25,000 bus drivers.


For many years the pay of bus drivers has been set in isolation by the private bus companies which operate routes on TfL’s behalf.


This has led to large variations in pay between drivers employed by different companies, despite their similar level of skill, experience, and the demands of the job.


Transport for London (TfL) has been working with the bus companies and trade union representatives, and today the Mayor is announcing the introduction of a fairer system for bus drivers’ pay, including a new starter minimum wage of £23,000 for drivers working across all of London’s bus companies.


£23,000 represents the average starting salary of a bus driver today. However there are variations locally and some drivers are paid less than this. The new professional driver wage will prevent a race to the bottom where competition for bus routes leads to pay for new starters reducing over time. Where employers currently pay less, the Mayor is encouraging them to work with trade union representatives to address any pay differences before 1st April 2017.


In addition to new guarantees around drivers’ wages, the Mayor is remedying the unfair situation where drivers who have moved to another bus operator have found that their past experience and record has not been reflected in the pay offered.


The news proposals include:


  • A new 'minimum professional London bus driver wage' will be introduced to apply to all new TfL contracts awarded to bus companies from April next year.


  • Bus companies will be required to pay drivers at least £23,000 per annum reflecting the challenging nature of the bus driver role, which now includes a greater focus on customer service. TfL will apply this from all new contracts awarded from 1 April 2017 next year, and rising with inflation thereafter.


  • A ‘License for London’ will be introduced no later than April, allowing drivers to move between companies, taking with them their qualifications and driving record, without having to go on a lower new starter rate. This will form an enhanced reference for their new employers and enable employers to bring drivers into relevant local pay structures reflecting their experience.


  • The Mayor also expects TFL, Unite representatives, and the operators to continue working towards introducing a London-wide pay structure for minimum levels of pay based on three and plus five years’ experience. Because of the wide range of pay levels and arrangements across London this will take longer to implement.


  • TfL will also work with Unite representatives and the bus companies to better support the progression of London’s bus drivers through to management and other industry positions, including addressing historic under-representation of minority groups. TfL will work with Unite representatives and the operators to develop an equality and diversity programme to build a working environment that fully represents the diversity of London bus workers at every level in every company.


  • There will also be continued work to address a range of other issues such as inadequate provision of toilet facilities and regular late finishes to shifts.



Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:


“London’s hard-working bus drivers keep our city moving at all times of day and night. Yet while millions of Londoners rely upon our buses every day, for too long drivers haven’t been getting a fair deal.


“Our new proposals will mean that, whichever private bus company you work for, drivers will be entitled to a minimum level of pay. It wasn’t right that a driver with the same level of knowledge, skill and experience could get paid less simply for working on a different route or moving company.   


“London’s buses are an iconic and essential part of our everyday life, and our new proposals are the first step towards ensuring our professional drivers are treated fairly, and get the pay they deserve.”  



Gareth Powell, Transport for London’s Director of Strategy and Contracted Services, said:


 “The bus network plays an absolutely vital role in London life, and as we’re improving it for customers – with cheaper journeys, cleaner buses and less congested routes – we also want to improve the lives of London’s bus drivers. This package of measures will ensure a decent wage and better prospects for development and progression for all bus drivers across London’s bus industry.”


The fairer deal for bus drivers follows on from the improvements that the Mayor is making to benefit bus passengers. The Mayor’s new ‘Hopper’ fare means that customers can change from one bus to another within an hour without being charged, meaning travelling around London has become cheaper and easier.


A series of other improvements to make London’s buses substantially cleaner and greener, and measures to make bus journeys more reliable are also underway.

Notes to editors

Approximately 20 per cent of London’s bus routes are tendered each year, and the 11 operators currently active in the London bus market are, at any one time, both operating existing contracts and bidding to win new work through the process.