FOI request detail

Bus contract terms alcohol and drug testing

Request ID: FOI-2371-2021
Date published: 10 March 2021

You asked

1.What terms do TFL implement in bus tender contracts regarding bus companies administering random drug and alcohol testing of drivers prior to commencing their shifts. 2. What is in place to protect the travelling public and other road users from bus drivers potentially taking a bus out whilst under the influence of drink or drugs. 3. When companies introduce remote sign on for shifts, how will random drug and alcohol testing be completed by the operators or will random testing be scrapped?

We answered

Our ref: FOI-2371-2021/GH

Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 19 February 2021 asking for information about bus contract terms relating to alcohol and drug testing.

Your request has been considered under the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and our information access policy. I can confirm that we do hold the information you require.

1.What terms do TFL implement in bus tender contracts regarding bus companies administering random drug and alcohol testing of drivers prior to commencing their shifts.

The contracts state:

The Operator shall ensure that the medical competence of drivers is monitored and maintained through ….. conducting drug and alcohol testing at a level that satisfies the Operator that DVLA standards are being maintained with an actual minimum of 10 per cent of drivers randomly tested for both drugs and alcohol annually.”

All bus drivers in the fleet can be randomly tested for drugs and alcohol whether they sign on at a garage or in a remote location before they start their shift. Each company will have its own arrangements for testing on or off site, and this will be explained to its staff as part of the operator’s HR policies and procedures. As driving under the influence of drinks or drugs is a criminal offence, it would be subject to the companies’ disciplinary processes. Any offence that amounts to gross misconduct such as driving under the influence of drugs risks instant dismissal.

All bus operating companies have a drug and alcohol policy in line with the Bus Operator Framework Agreement. Schedule V of Annex B requires Bus Operators to conduct; drug and alcohol testing at the pre-employment stage involving a medical review, addressing medical, drug and alcohol requirements; and drug and alcohol testing following any incident where the involvement of drugs or alcohol is suspected.

In 2019, compulsory reporting by bus operators to TfL was introduced, requiring them to provide each period, results of drugs and alcohol testing carried out on drivers as part of the monitoring regime for bus assurance health-check audits. Tests were categorised as below.

  • Random alcohol and drugs testing
  • Post-accident for cause alcohol and drugs testing
  • Pre-employment alcohol and drugs testing

Data submitted includes number of tests undertaken, number of failures and/or pre-test resignations. From the early part of 2020, bus operators faced enormous operational challenges adapting to the pandemic including putting new safeguards in place for staff, higher levels of sickness and furloughing of many vulnerable colleagues. This reduced testing due to Covid-19 safety concerns, but ‘for-cause’ testing carried on.

2. What is in place to protect the travelling public and other road users from bus drivers potentially taking a bus out whilst under the influence of drink or drugs.

Please see the answer above. In addition to disciplinary action such as potential loss of employment, bus drivers might also face charges in a magistrates court, particularly if they tested positive and were involved in an accident in the line of their work.

3. When companies introduce remote sign on for shifts, how will random drug and alcohol testing be completed by the operators or will random testing be scrapped?

Please see our answer to question one.

If this is not the information you are looking for please do not hesitate to contact me.

If you are considering submitting a further FOI request please think carefully about whether the request is essential at this current time, as answering FOI requests will require the use of limited resources and the attention of staff who could be supporting other essential activity. Where requests are made, please note that our response time may be impacted by the current situation.

If you are not satisfied with this response please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely

Graham Hurt

FOI Case Officer

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

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