Route Manager

The Job and What's Involved

A route manager, sometimes called a route supervisor or service inspector, works at a supervisory level within a passenger transport operating company. They manage staff, vehicles, timetables and rota's, deal with passenger issues and handle problems such as delays, accidents or route diversions.

Route managers may be involved in a range of supervisory or organisational tasks, including:

  • Planning and adjusting routes and timetables.
  • Working out the rota's of drivers and conductors, and arranging cover for absentees.
  • Surveying routes by travelling on and timing them.
  • Monitoring and managing the performance of a team of drivers and/or conductors.
  • Making sure that driver and conductor paperwork is correctly completed.
  • Contributing to staff training and disciplinary procedures when needed.

In addition, route managers may have an inspection role. This involves travelling on passenger services and taking responsibility for passenger service, safety and security issues. They are sometimes known as revenue protection inspectors, and may:

  • Patrol buses, coaches, trams or trains, checking that passengers have a valid ticket or pass.
  • Deal with enquiries from customers about timetables, connecting services and passenger facilities.
  • Issue penalty fares to passengers travelling without a valid ticket (if working as a revenue protection inspector).
  • Work at railway, coach or bus stations, or busy tram stops, checking passengers' tickets as they board.
  • Make announcements and keep passengers and crew informed if there are any problems.

Route managers may work with a transport or depot manager to make decisions about difficult situations, such as bad weather, breakdowns, accidents or traffic congestion.

Route managers usually work up to 40 hours a week. They may work shifts to cover days, evenings, weekends and sometimes nights. They may be on call to deal with emergencies.

Route managers spend some of the day in an office in the depot or station, but also travel on buses, trams or trains. They may wear a uniform for inspection roles.

In passenger facing situations, route managers may have to deal with passengers who are drunk or aggressive, particularly at night. As such, revenue protection inspectors sometimes travel in pairs.

Starting salaries for route managers may be around £17,000 a year. Salaries in London and the South East may be higher than in other parts of the country. Some companies offer free or concessionary travel to their employees.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are almost 400,000 employees in the bus, rail and light rail industries in the UK. They may be employed by bus operating companies throughout the country. There are eight light rail or tram systems currently in operation in urban centres. These are in Birmingham, Blackpool, Croydon, London Docklands, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, and Tyne and Wear. Edinburgh is also planning to introduce a tram system.

In the rail industry, train operating companies (TOC's) employ staff to work in stations and on trains. There are currently 22 mainline TOC's in the UK. These are listed on the National Rail website,

Job opportunities in the areas of customer service and safety, and revenue protection are predicted to increase. There has already been a significant growth in the number of revenue protection inspectors in some areas, particularly London.

Jobs may be advertised in the local press, in Jobcentre Plus offices and on the websites of bus, coach, train and tram operating companies. Many route managers are promoted from within the company, and can progress from positions such as conductor, customer service assistant, railway station assistant or driver.

Education and Training

There are no formal entry requirements to become a route manager or inspector, although some employers may ask for four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), particularly in English and maths. Most train operating companies carry out their own tests to find suitable employees. All companies look for people with good communication and numerical skills.

It may be possible to enter route management by gaining experience in transport administration or customer service through an Apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work, Careers Wales; and for Northern Ireland contact

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Most operators provide on-the-job training for new recruits. Initial induction training generally lasts two to four weeks and includes:

- Operating ticket machines
- Route familiarisation
- Disability awareness
- Customer care
- Conflict management
- Legal issues
- Security, and health and safety matters

A number of operators offer their route managers the opportunity to work towards NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Road Passenger Transport or Rail Transport Operations (Passenger Services), and/or NVQ/SVQ Levels 2 and 3 in Customer Services. There is also an industry specific NVQ in Tram/Light Rail Transport Operations.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Route managers need:

  • An awareness of safety and security, with good observational skills.
  • Clear speech and good communication.
  • To be calm and have the confidence to work with minimal supervision.
  • Assertiveness for dealing with difficult passengers and problems.
  • Numerical skills.
  • Organisational and planning skills.
  • Problem-solving skills.
  • To be good at working with a wide variety of people.
  • A polite manner.
  • The ability to understand complex fare systems and all the legal aspects relating to non-payment of fares.
  • An ability to motivate and inspire others.
  • Writing skills for reports and forms.

Your Long Term Prospects

Route managers and inspectors may be able to progress into transport or revenue management. Some may move into scheduling or planning roles.

Get Further Information

Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT),
Drury House, 34-43 Russell Street,
London WC2B 5HA
Tel: 020 7240 3131

GoSkills, Concorde House,
Trinity Park, Solihull,
West Midlands B37 7UQ
Tel: 0121 635 5520

Light Rail Transit Association, c/o Haslams,
133 Lichfield Street, Walsall,
West Midlands WS1 1SL
Tel: 01179 517785

National Rail. Website:

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