Tube drivers & Socialism's expense

25 October 2011
I lost the reference links from last time I read up on tube driver pay, but given their tendency to strike, they were never going to last long before featuring again. However this time what brings them to my attention again was a debate where someone who I will euphemistically call a Socialist remarked on people taking the bus instead of the tube, because the tube is unaffordable. Red Rag plus Bull..

Tube driver hourly pay

The most authoritative source for tube driver pay I could find is on ASLEF website putting it at £42,424. I have also seen £42,500, £46,000, and even £40,111 quoted. I will go with the £42,424 ASLEF figure. I don't know exactly how the rostering works, but I do know they work a 35-hour week and get 43 days annual leave. There is some system of bonuses and reduced hours for early/late/long/weekend/bank-holiday working, but without access to the formulas I cannot quantify them.

For simplicity I will assume that these 43 days include bank holidays, and I will round it to 9 weeks (technically 45 days, but at 35 hours a week, the typical driver ain't gonna average a full 5 working days a week). £42,424 works out as £986.60 a week, or £28.19 an hour. Someone with the standard 8-hour day with 25 days annual leave (plus 8 bank holidays) working at that hourly rate would have an annual salary of £51,193.

Bus driver hourly pay

Salaries for bus drivers are hard to come by, as London has multiple bus companies which all have their own policies. The best description i could find is not exactly authoritative. However since 40-hour weeks at £13.25 per hour with standard 25+8 days annual holiday works out at close to the approximately £24,000 stated by the BBC as an approximate pre-overtime salary, i am inclined to believe the source.

Tube drivers get 16 weeks of training, which to my knowledge is specific to the line and rolling stock they will be using. Bus drivers, in comparison, have to not only have a year's UK driving experience, they also have to obtain a PCV Licence. Basically bus drivers do a more complex job on about half the pay.

And the clanger?

Tube drivers have just got themselves a 5% pay rise this year, and RPI plus 0.5% for the subsequent 2 years. So expect inflation-busting tube fare rises. However I doubt socialists would notice the irony that state-sponsoring buttering up of unions is why the poor cannot afford Tube fares. And in case you are still wondering where tube drivers feature on the greed-o-meter, they were pushing for a 12% increase..