Belfast Telegraph

Drive to double number of women behind the bus wheel

Women make up only 4% of drivers at the Dublin Bus company in what is often seen as a male-dominated industry.

Driver Suzanne Armstrong and Naoise O’Molloy, five, from Trim, at the Launch of Dublin Buses “Give it a Spin” recruitment drive for female bus drivers at Pheonix Park in Dublin today.
Driver Suzanne Armstrong and Naoise O’Molloy, five, from Trim, at the Launch of Dublin Buses “Give it a Spin” recruitment drive for female bus drivers at Pheonix Park in Dublin today.

By Cate McCurry, PA

Dublin Bus has set out plans to double the number of women bus drivers as part of a huge recruitment campaign.

Women make up only 4% of drivers at the company in what is often seen as a male-dominated industry.

In a bid to increase the number of women behind the wheel, Dublin Bus is hosting a number of open days for prospective female drivers.

The firms employs some 3,500 people, with around 7% of female workers.

Of the 2,550 bus drivers, only 97 are women.

Male-dominated industries are falling by the wayside Rosemary Smith

Vivienne Kavanagh, Dublin Bus employee development and equality executive, said that plans are under way to increase that number by 100% over the next two years.

She said she wants to challenge some of the perceptions of bus drivers.

“As part of that we are holding these open days for women so they can come along, drive our training buses, speak to our female bus drivers and inspectors about what it’s like to be a driver,” she said.

“Public transport world-wide is male dominated and I think because we don’t see many women driving buses it can put them off, and there are perceptions that it’s physically difficult to drive a bus, but it’s not.

“Some people might think it’s unsafe but there are CCTV cameras on the buses.

“Drivers have a screen in the cab and there’s a radio system to contact inspectors.

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Former racing driver Rosemary Smith at the Launch of Dublin Buses “Give it a Spin” recruitment drive for female bus drivers at Phoenix Park in Dublin today

“I want to encourage women come along and see what it’s like and try driving the bus themselves.

“We are very much focused on being representative of our customers and communities we serve.

“There are lots of business benefits of having more women employed in the company.”

Bus driver salaries begin at 632 euro per week increasing to 859 euro per week.

In 2016, Dublin Bus saw its first all-female class of graduating bus drivers.

Irish motor racing legend Rosemary Smith helped launch the recruitment drive in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

She encouraged women to attend the open days.

“If you think you would have the capabilities, come and have a go at it,” she added.

“There are a lot of women who would be afraid to put themselves forward, but I grow up in the era where many women were considered not good enough, or not ‘drivers’ as such.

“But male-dominated industries are falling by the wayside. Women can do anything they like, the glass ceiling in all sorts of ways has been broken.”

After 20 years behind the wheel, bus driver Tina Ahern said the most difficult part is the early morning starts.

She said: “There’s only a very small amount of women drivers and we want them to realise it’s not that difficult to do.

“You get behind the steering wheel and it’s very easy.

“There’s a perception that it’s hard, but it’s definitely not a hard job to do.

“The most difficult is getting up early in the morning but the passengers are lovely, the people I work with are lovely.

“It’s male dominated yes but they are all lovely.

“You have a screen so you keep it up you are in any danger but in my 20 years I haven’t come across anything.

“Passengers can sometimes be grumpy in the morning but you are the first person they see, we don’t take offence to it or anything personally.”

Suzanne Armstrong has been working for Dublin Bus for three years.

She said: “I went to an open day and got a tour and spoke to other women drivers and then got to drive the bus.

“I would encourage women to give it a go, turn up and see what it’s like.

“I love being a bus driver.

“The most difficult part is finding my way around the city, but it’s OK as I always have someone to guide me.

“I think it’s easier for women bus drivers, I have never had any issues on the bus.”

Dublin Bus will host a number of female recruitment open days in August, September and October.

Registration details can be found at dublinbus.ie.

PA

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