A BUS boss has pledged his firm will “always do its best” for passengers.

Alex Hornby – chief executive officer of Transdev, which runs Keighley Bus Company – was speaking as a driver shortage continued to affect the industry.

He said that so far a “relatively small” number of journeys provided by Transdev had been cancelled due to the situation.

But he added that nearly 100 of its trainee drivers had been waiting more than three times longer than normal to receive test dates and licences.

And he thanked customers who had been hit by service cancellations for their patience.

According to the Confederation of Passenger Transport, nationally there is a shortage of more than 4,000 drivers.

Mr Hornby said: “We’re grateful to our colleagues and customers for their patience with us. We understand entirely how frustrating it is when journeys are cancelled and it’s the last thing we want to do – especially at a time when we’re attracting more people back to the bus. Our buses are now carrying 85 per cent of the numbers that were on board at the same time in 2019 – ahead of the nationwide figure of 75 per cent from the Department for Transport.

“We’re using social media and our Transdev Go mobile app, which tracks all our buses in real time, to keep customers informed – and we’re running a high-profile recruitment campaign highlighting the many benefits we offer to new drivers.

“Right now we have 95 new colleagues at The Academy, our in-house driver training facility. They just want to complete their training and be out on the road serving our customers.

“Most of our buses are running as normal and we are attracting new drivers, so the current delays to licensing and testing are very frustrating.

“At an industry-wide level, we’re asking the Government to speed-up the provisional licence applications and free-up availability of theory and practical tests.

“We are also keen to introduce our own delegated examiner to help process testing, but DVSA training needed to help us introduce the role remains suspended. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to do all we can and continue our campaign to recruit more new drivers.”

At a recent meeting of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s transport committee, members heard that the region was short of around 250 bus drivers – about ten per cent of the workforce.

The shortage has been attributed to a combination of factors, including drivers leaving due to the strains of ‘frontline’ work during the pandemic and being tempted away by high-paid jobs in haulage.

Further information about driver opportunities at Keighley Bus Company can be found at transdevbus.co.uk.