Dundee’s main bus operator says it is “cautiously optimistic” about the reliability of its services after a change in its driver recruitment process.
The operator blamed a shortage of drivers as more than 100 buses were cancelled on some days during the summer.
The firm first reported issues with staffing numbers as far back as September 2021.
Xplore said drivers were leaving the industry because of anti-social hours, congestion and “having to juggle customer service with maintaining a timetable”.
But in recent weeks the average number of buses failing to run has dropped – with no services cancelled at all on some days.
The firm – whose billionaire owners recently bought over a rival firm – has not confirmed how many new drivers it has taken on to address the shortage, but says it was forced to change its recruitment tactics as it struggled to get workers on board.
David Phillips, director and general manager, told The Courier: “We are cautiously optimistic of an improving picture but we operate against a background of a national shortage of drivers, where a high percentage of staff continue to exit the industry.
Previous recruitment process ‘slow on delivering drivers’
“Our recruitment process was previously outsourced and was slow on delivering driver numbers through into service – we have therefore taken recruitment back in house.
“We have also increased rates of pay to £13.50 per hour, making Dundee drivers among the highest paid outside London.
“Lead-in times for new drivers are necessarily quite lengthy, so we may continue to experience shortages going forward, but we very much hope to see our revised recruitment efforts yield eventual success.”
Fellow operator Stagecoach East Scotland continues to cancel dozens of services across Tayside and Fife each day as it also deals with a shortage of drivers and staff sickness.