Tuesday 17 September 2019

'Give it a spin' - Dublin Bus aims to increase number of women drivers by 100pc

Motor racing legend Rosemary Smith at the launch of Dublin Bus' Give It a Spin female recruitment drive Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Motor racing legend Rosemary Smith at the launch of Dublin Bus' Give It a Spin female recruitment drive Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Mya Lynn & motor racing legend Rosemary Smith Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Driver Suzanne Armstrong and Naoise O'Molloy at the Launch of Dublin Bus "Give it a Spin" recruitment drive for female bus drivers Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Aoife Walsh

Dublin Bus are holding a series of female recruitment drives in a bid to increase its number of female drivers by 100 per cent.

Out of 2,500 Dublin Bus drivers, only 97 are women, the Dublin Bus 'Give It a Spin' female recruitment drive aims "even out" the ratio by attracting more females to a driving role.

Speaking at the launch of the recruitment drive, 82-year-old racing legend Rosemary Smith reflected on how, when she was younger, a woman becoming a bus driver was unheard of.

Speaking to Independent.ie, she said: "Going way back, if you think about it, they didn't even want women to drive cars. The fact that there are, I know it's only 4pcof bus drivers that are women, shows woman power is coming to the fore yet again and I'm delighted to see that.

Driver Suzanne Armstrong and Naoise O'Molloy at the Launch of Dublin Bus
Driver Suzanne Armstrong and Naoise O'Molloy at the Launch of Dublin Bus "Give it a Spin" recruitment drive for female bus drivers Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

"My first reaction when I was asked to do this was, 'A bus? Now it's alright driving a car, it's even alright driving a car with a caravan behind it. But the size of these buses, the drivers are so confident. How could you get through little spaces with about two inches either side of it, and yet they do it absolutely calmly and their perfectly at ease with it. They just love it.

"Go back to my days, if somebody said they were going to be a bus driver there'd be nearly an uproar. They've always been slightly put down. But now, luckily, women power is coming to the fore in everything," she said.

Dublin Bus is offering a starting salary of €632.05 per four-day week (inclusive of shift and Sunday premium), which can increase to €859.62 per five-day week.

Tina Ahern, who has been working as a bus driver for Dublin Bus for the past twenty years, said women can be intimidated by the size of a bus.

Mya Lynn & motor racing legend Rosemary Smith
Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Mya Lynn & motor racing legend Rosemary Smith Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

"I just think the size of the bus probably puts a lot of people off, thinking 'I won't be able to do that.'

"Once you get behind the steering wheel and you realise how easy it is to do, and the training school is amazing, they do give you amazing training. You do it for the first time and it kind of empowers you a little.

"There's about 93 women drivers over the eight garages, which is only 4pc, which is very very small. The reason they're doing this is to change tha. I know a lot of people think, 'oh well, it's a bit sexist.' It's not a bit sexist at all. They're just trying to even it out.

"I love my job. I've loved it from day one, I really have."

Vivienne Kavanagh, Dublin Bus Employee Development and Equality Executive said: "Public transport worldwide is male dominated. Across Europe they'd have similar figures to ourselves. 4pc of our bus drivers are women, obviously 96pc are men. There's a lot of perceptions around being a bus driver. Some people think because it's a big bus, physically it's difficult to drive, which it's not.

"That's why we're holding an open day. As part of that we want women to come along, they're get to drive our training buses with a driving instructor so they'll get to see for themselves what it's like to drive a bus. Also, they'll get to speak to some of our female drivers who'll be there on the day who can tell them about their own experiences of working as a bus driver," she said.

"There's difficult things that drivers have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. You know, you're driving around Dublin City, it's a very busy city, there's lots of traffic, you're dealing with lots of people day in day out but there's no difference in between our male and female drivers in what they come across."

Dublin Bus are hosting a series of open days in August, September and October. Applicants must hold a valid category B car licence to attend, for more information or to register click here.

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