§ Mr. Edward Davey
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans his Department has to assist bus companies to recruit drivers in areas where there are significant driver shortages; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Hill
My Department is aware of the difficulties being experienced by bus operators in recruiting and retaining bus drivers in some areas. We have been in regular contact with the bus industry to consider the extent of this problem, which has also been a matter considered as part of the Department's research on trends in the industry.
The responsibility for ensuring that they have sufficient drivers is primarily a matter for individual bus companies. However, my Department and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and Driver Standards Agency (DSA) have been pursuing with the industry what steps can be taken to assist with the current problems. For example a pilot procedure has recently been introduced 279W by DVLA with one nominated operator on a trial basis, with the aim of providing a high speed response to PSV driver licence applications.
In addition, I understand the Department for Education and Employment has provided £145,000 to TRANSfED, the bus industry's National Training Organisation, to identify and address future skills needs.