New collaborative initiative aims to support and celebrate women working in the bus and coach sector and make it a better, safer place to work.

Attendees at Women in Bus and coach parliamentary event

Above: Attendees at the Parliamentary launch event at the House of Commons on 21 November

While more than half the people boarding buses are women, women make up only 10% of those working in London’s bus industry. Aiming to change this, Transport for London has launched the new industry-wide Women in Bus and Coach Initiative to challenge and remove barriers faced by women in the sector. Long-term, the industry will run Women in Bus and Coach as a collaborative forum to share expertise and ideas to make jobs in bus and coach more attractive to all women, as well as supporting and celebrating women already working in the bus and coach sector.

On Monday 20 November, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Road Passenger Transport Industry welcomed Women in Bus and Coach to the House of Commons. Senior industry leaders, MPs and other political figures met with members and supporters of the initiative to hear how it would help create a step-change in inclusivity within the sector.

There were inspirational speeches from traffic commissioner Sarah Bell, Stagecoach CEO Claire Miles, Go Ahead's apprenticeship assessor Koli Begum, and Abellio's operations and HR director Lorna Murphy, among others from across the sector, as well as from Lord Peter Snape, and Peter, Lord Hendy of Richmond Hill, who is Women in Coach and Bus sponsor.

Koli Begum of GoAhead at Women in Coach and Bus

Above: Koli Begum of GoAhead

Louise Cheeseman, director of Buses at Transport for London, and chair of Women in Bus and Coach, said: ‘The bus, coach and community transport industries provide incredible opportunities for a varied, challenging and rewarding career. All women should have equal access to these opportunities and a workplace designed around their needs.

‘Today’s event was a unique opportunity to both gain cross party support for the Women in Bus and Coach initiative and showcase how we’ve made significant progress in recent years in recruiting more women into the industry.’

Amanda O’Donoghue is CIRAS stakeholder manager for buses, Transport for London, train operators and ROSCOs, and was also at the event. She told us:

‘I’m very proud to be a part of this amazing network of fabulous women and allies. Women in Bus and Coach is a fantastic initiative supporting women and improving diversity across the bus and coach sector.

‘It’s great to see women being supported and encouraged to pursue their career aspirations, and breaking down and challenging the barriers that impede progression.

‘The parliamentary launch event was a monumental day full of inspirational speakers and powerful words. It’s exciting to see where we go next.’

Lorna Murphy of Abellio at Women in Coach and Bus

Above: Lorna Murphy of Abellio

Charter for women

The official launch summit of Women in Bus and Coach took place in Birmingham on 8 November. During this event, Ruth Salmon, consultancy lead for safety at Transport Research Laboratory, shared the findings of research into challenges and barriers for women in the sector. This revealed that they include a lack of flexible working and barriers around shift work, women’s health and menopause, periods, pregnancy and inadequate toilet facilities, a ‘default male design’ for vehicles, uniforms and PPE, and a perceived ‘macho culture’ that creates a negative atmosphere for many women and people from minority groups.

The panel at the event discussed how women and allies can bring change and create a more inclusive, welcoming and safer industry for all.

Key stakeholders attending signed up to a National Charter agreeing to challenge industry policies and practices that do not support women adequately, and to set, review and publish targets for women in all roles in the industry. 

CIRAS’ Amanda O’Donoghue added: ‘It’s great to know that our bus members can report confidentially through CIRAS on the challenges that create barriers in their working environment and working lives.

‘When we hear from and listen to a greater diversity of voices – not just women – things can change for the better for everyone, with better facilities, better culture, better engagement and better collaboration. And these lead to better outcomes and safer, more inclusive work environments.’

Amanda O'Donoghue from CIRAS at Women in Coach and Bus

Above: CIRAS' Amanda O'Donoghue

Find out more

Women in Bus and Coach website

Women in Bus and Coach National Charter

TfL: Women in Bus and Coach initiative

Raise a concern through CIRAS confidential reporting