ORC decides to fund a living wage for bus drivers

Aug 24, 2022

Orbus drivers are set for a pay rise to meet the Living Wage rate, after the Otago Regional Council today agreed to top up wages to get them there.

ORC transport manager Doug Rodgers says being a bus driver is a challenging and at times stressful job.

“We’re pleased we can support bus drivers with today’s decision.

"We would like to publicly thank our drivers for their effort and hard work during what has been at times a difficult period.”

Now the council has endorsed the decision, an extra amount of funding will be set aside to pay bus operators so they can top up the bus drivers' wages to the new living wage amount.

The current Living Wage rate of $22.75 per hour would rise by 90c, or 3.95 percent, to $23.65.

The ORC has estimated the cost at almost $500,000.

“The national and regional shortage of bus drivers, in conjunction with the impacts of Covid-19 and seasonal influenza, has resulted in a reduced bus service timetable for Queenstown and Dunedin bus services and we hope this move will contribute to resolving part of this issue,” Mr Rodgers says.

Speaking in the public forum section of today's council meeting, bus drivers told councillors their view is if the pay's right, there's enough drivers available to fill the gaps.

The ORC is separately investigating options to address the issues of bus driver recruitment and retention and the results will be considered as part of formulating the Draft 2023/34 Annual Plan next year.

An interim step of this work was today’s resolution to lift bus driver wages to match the 2022 Living Wage which takes effect at the start of September.

The regional council and Waka Kotahi provide the bulk of bus driver wages, but until recently bus driver wages were set by operators and reflected in their tenders for bus contracts.

Waka Kotahi has agreed to co-fund its share to match the 2021 Living Wage and is working on how that is adjusted to match future increases in the Living Wage. 

It is also developing processes and templates to enable regional councils to claim a share of an additional $61m funding from central government to further top up bus driver wages.

The timeline for accessing this funding is not yet established.

Regional councils will also need to provide a matching local share.



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