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Xplore Dundee bus drivers react to ‘sudden’ takeover by Greenock-based McGill’s

Some of the buses are already in use by Xplore, with more to hit the roads in 2020.
Some of the buses are already in use by Xplore, with more to hit the roads in 2020.

Bus drivers claim the news they would now be working for an entirely different firm came “out of the blue”.

Xplore Dundee revealed yesterday that it had been purchased by Greenock-based firm McGill’s Buses, led by brothers Sandy and James Easdale.

It comes just a month after the operator announced an overhaul of its network in an effort to adjust in the post-pandemic landscape.

The pair, who now run the largest independent bus operator in the UK, agreed a deal with National Express and now own the City of Discovery fleet and Xplore More, the coach service.

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James and Sandy Easdale of McGill’s Buses who are set to acquire the Xplore operation in Dundee.

Some staff said they had been informed in meetings yesterday at the Xplore base on East Dock Street, before word began to travel to those on routes around the city.

An internal document seen by the Tele revealed that Xplore Dundee branding would “remain” with no threat of redundancies in the “foreseeable future” or no changes to the current network.

One driver said: “There have been rumours for years that we could be changing from this to that but that’s all they’ve ever been.

“In this instance there were no Chinese whispers about what was going to unfold yesterday it was totally out of the blue.

“As soon as some started to hear though, word got out quite quickly via group chats so everyone knew fairly quickly.

“We assume Covid-19 has obviously played some sort of factor in the decision but we’ve been told there is no immediate threat to jobs.

“At the end of the day they’ll still need drivers, we’ll need to see what this transitional period brings.”

Another driver agreed the decision had been “sudden” before adding he hadn’t “heard enough” about the changes when we’d spoken to him.

He added: “We’ve been hearing about takeovers for years now, this has been sudden though I will say that.

“There are no immediate concerns for our jobs. It could well be in the future it will simply be we will change our tie.”

McGill’s deal to acquire Xplore is subject to completion by the end of the year with chairman James Easdale describing the operator as the “perfect fit”.

He added:  “Whilst others are shying away from investment, we are always looking for new opportunities in both construction and transport.”

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