Auckland bus drivers' pay boosted amid staffing shortage

Source: 1News

Auckland Council is announcing an immediate wage increase for the city's bus drivers on Thursday to try and boost its staff numbers.

A file photo of a double-decker bus passing by a Northern Busway station in Auckland.

The average increase will be 8%, bringing the average wage up from $23.71 to $25.62 per hour.

It comes after continued bus service cancellations across the city amid staffing shortages and winter sickness.

Auckland Transport (AT) said it was confident further wage rises would be possible later this year.

Mayor Phil Goff described the move as "critical to overcoming a shortfall in driver numbers".

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He said ensuring the network was funded to be fully staffed would make it more reliable, so more people would use it.

"More people on buses means less congestion, less pollution and reduced carbon emissions," he said.

"It helps recognise the importance of the job and the responsibilities our drivers have."

AT's group manager of metro services Darek Koper agreed that the move was needed to address staffing levels.

He told 1News the change was an important step that would increase the attractiveness of bus driving as a career and said "bus drivers have been paid lower wages compared to the rest of the transport industry for quite some time".

He said Auckland is close to 500 bus drivers short, but added that it was a global problem and more action was definitely needed.

"We are aware that public transport operators from Australia have been recruiting in New Zealand for bus drivers."

The pay boost was decided in consultation with bus drivers' unions, including FIRST and Tramways unions.

They described the boost as "significant and meaningful", but only a "first step".

AT's interim chief executive Mark Lambert confirmed the decision's timing was influenced by inflation.

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"Bus drivers are the backbone of the transport system in Auckland, carrying tens of thousands of people each day," he said.

"We know further increases will be needed to address the rising cost of living."