Ultimate Guide To Becoming A PCV (Bus & Coach) Driver

Last Updated: 02/03/2022

If you have a love of driving, like to meet people and enjoy being out and about for your day job, then a career as a bus or coach driver could be perfect for you.

So, how do you become a bus driver?

Buses have played a fundamental part in the UK’s transport system for decades.

A common sight in every city, town and village all over the country, buses remain a crucial part of the transport infrastructure today.

The same can be said for coaches.

From coach holidays to day trips and school outings, coaches remain a common sight on the roads and motorways up and down the UK and across Europe.

Should I Become A Bus/Coach Driver?

Due to the popularity and the scale of the bus network, it’s no surprise that many people consider a career of driving buses as an attractive one.

With solid wages, quick training and the opportunity to see and meet lots of people, driving a bus or coach for a living could be the perfect move for you.

So, what’s involved in a career driving buses?

How do you train, what’s involved and how long does it take?

We will answer these questions, and more besides, in this guide.

What Do I Need To Become A Bus/Coach Driver?

Well, in short you will need to be fully qualified, however, there are some fundamentals that you must have before you even apply for the relevant training course.

They are:

  • A full car driving licence for Great Britain or Northern Ireland
  • Be 18 years old
  • A love of driving
  • Enjoy talking to and meeting people
  • Patient
  • Friendly
  • Strong communication skills
  • Be calm under pressure

What Are The Benefits Of Being A Bus/Coach Driver?

Once you’re fully qualified and you’re out on the road, you’re going to love being a bus or coach driver.

As we mentioned above, this role is perfect for someone who loves driving and being out and about on the roads, so you’re already on to a good thing if that’s the case.

Furthermore, these will also be among the benefits you have as a bus or coach driver:

  • Get out in the community (as a local bus driver)
  • See new places, both as bus driver or coach driver
  • Flexibility, you’ll be on different routes in different places frequently
  • Freedom, you’re outside, moving around and probably going to see or experience something new every day
  • Meet new people
  • Build connections and possibly even make new friends

You never know who will step onto your bus on any given day!

Potential Challenges Of Being A Bus/Coach Driver

Of course, every single job in the world has its challenges and this profession is no different.

They should not put you off, but it’s helpful to be aware of the types of things that may crop up in the job:

Traffic:

If you love driving you’ll know this already, but one thing you can never control is the traffic. So, be prepared to spend a fair amount of time stuck in traffic.

Difficult People:

If you’ve been on public transport a lot in your life, then you’ll be aware of the types of people and incidents that can arise.

From youngsters behaving badly to adults who are drunk, and just about everything in between.

You will likely end up in a position where you have to deal with situations involving people like this, however, the positive is that you will receive training on how to do so safely.

Concentration:

Concentration is a key skill when working as a bus or coach driver and this can often be tiring.

You’ll get used to it in no time at all, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

Accidents:

While the chances are you will never be involved in a serious accident, but virtue of being on the road so frequently, you may be involved in or witness traffic incidents of some kind.

Other Road Users:

Finally, and not a surprise, but we’ve all seen drivers who get angry or irritated when they are behind a bus, lorry or other large vehicle.

Again, your training will cover this, but be mindful that you’ll be driving the object that can wind some people up.

Salary & Working Hours

If you’re considering a career driving buses or coaches, then it’s only natural that you will want to know more information about career fundamentals, such as the average salary, possible career progression and the hours of work.

We’ve put a few pointers below.

Salary:

On average, newly qualified bus drivers will start on a salary of around £22,000 per year.

This can obviously vary and your location may also impact this.

Once experienced, it’s fairly common for bus drivers to earn a salary of £30,000 per year or more.

Don’t forget, there are lots of different types of bus and coach operators across the UK, with different types of routes, different vehicles and different operating models, therefore, salaries can vary.

Working Hours:

As a bus or coach driver, you cannot legally drive for more than 10 hours in a single day.

Furthermore, you are required to take a break of at least 30 minutes after 5.5 hours of driving.

You must also take a minimum rest of 10 hours between 2 working days. T

his is fairly simple, but it will prevent you from driving on a late-night route and then doing a shift the very next morning.

In summary, many bus companies will contract you to work around 45 hours per week, possibly a little lower.

There will often be opportunities to earn overtime as well, but keep in mind you still cannot pass any of the limits on driving hours.

If driving a coach, you will likely get paired with another driver if you’re doing a long-distance journey.

For example, a coach holiday, or even a significant day trip.

This is so that you can swap driving duties every 5.5 hours so that the other can rest.

What Are The Responsibilities Of A Bus/Coach Driver?

In your role as a bus or coach driver, you will have certain responsibilities that you must carry out in order to successfully perform your job.

They are:

  • To safely operate your vehicle
  • Ensure you have performed relative safety checks on your vehicle each day
  • Take payments from customers
  • Offer customers advice and answer questions relevant to the route/locality

What Are The Differences Between A Bus & Coach Driver?

If you have a preference toward either buses or coaches, or perhaps have just never considered one over the other, it’s useful to know what the main differences are in terms of the role of the driver.

Here are some of the main considerations:

Tickets & Payments:

Bus:

As a bus driver, you will be required to take payments.

This could be cash but is increasingly by card/contactless payment.

There may also be travel passes which need to be checked for validity.

Coach:

Driving a coach will see your passengers much less likely to need to buy a ticket as they board.

Instead, they will probably have pre-bought tickets and passes and you may even have some sort of assistant/holiday rep working alongside you who could check passes/tickets.

Routes:

Bus:

While you may get to work different routes around the local area, those routes will seldom change unless there are roadworks or traffic incidents.

Coach:

As a coach driver, you may do more long-distance driving and destinations/routes can frequently differ.

Variety:

Bus:

Most of your role as a bus driver are cab-based and you will rarely move from the safety of this cab while working, unless you are assisting customers or sorting out other issues.

Coach:

As a coach driver, you may be required to help with loading/unloading passenger luggage.

How To Get Qualified As A Bus/Coach Driver

So, now we have all of the information about what the job is, what it involves, the benefits you will receive and the key differences between a job as a bus driver and a coach driver, it is time now to focus on how you set about becoming qualified to drive a bus or coach.

The good news is that the training and licence required is the same for both.

This is the Category D Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) licence.

In addition, you will also need the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).

How To Apply & Qualify As A Bus/Coach Driver (Step-By-Step Guide)

Step 1: Apply For Provisional Entitlements

Firstly, you need to get some additional provisional entitlements added to your driving licences that allows you to begin the PCV training.

You will need to request and complete D2 application forms for this.

Step 2: Provide Medical Report To Show You’re Fit To Drive A Bus/Coach

At the same time as step one, you should also request a D4 form which you will then need to have filled in by your doctor.

There will often be a charge for this by your doctor.

This form is crucial and passes you as medically fit if you drive a larger vehicle.

Step 3: Start Revising For The Theory Test

You can start this step at any point, even before you carry out step one!

Revising for your PCV theory test is important and you should dedicate as much time as possible to this.

The theory test will include things such as hazard perception and will have some multiple-choice questions.

Step 4: Begin PCV Practical Lessons

Depending on your experience of driving larger vehicles, you may need to carry out up to seven days of practical bus driver training.

This will include around 3 hours a day of physical driving time.

Much like learning to drive a car, your instructor will be able to gauge when you’re ready to take your test and if there are areas of your driving you need to focus on more for additional practice.

Step 5: Pass Your Theory Test

Having done lots of revision, you can now sit your theory test.

This can be booked at any point once you have completed steps one and two and had your provisional licence entitlements added.

Once you have passed, you’re all set for the practical test.

Step 6: Pass Your Practical PCV Test

Finally, with the theory test passed and all of your practical training complete, it’s time to take your practical test.

Good luck!

Step 7: Apply For Jobs

Congratulations! You have now completed your PCV driver training having successfully passed your theory and practical elements.

If your PCV training was paid for by an employer, you are free to begin your new career as a bus/coach driver with them.

If you funded your PCV training yourself, you can now start to look for jobs and begin your new career as a bus or coach driver.

Further Resources