Bosses at Aberdeen’s main bus operator have apologised for the firm’s failings.
First Aberdeen was hauled in front of the Scottish Traffic Commissioner at the Town House yesterday and fined £50,000.
Due to complaints to Bus User Scotland, independent monitoring of the firm was carried out for a number of services.
The public inquiry had to be moved from committee room four at the Town House to the council chambers due to the number of members of the public who turned up.
Managing director Andrew Jarvis, regional managing director David Alexander and the firm’s operations director David Phillips were among those at the meeting.
Joan Aitken, Scottish Traffic Commissioner, told the chamber she wasn’t looking to revoke First Aberdeen’s Licence – but said the firm had admitted to letting the public down.
During the meeting, Mr Jarvis said he apologised to the people of Aberdeen over the failures and said they were doing everything they can to improve.
Afterwards Mr Jarvis said: “I think it was a fair decision. I do apologise for the difficulties we had last summer.
“We are trying to put 2018 behind us and move forward for 2019.
“We were brought up because we had failed to operate some journeys through the summer of last year, in particular July, August and September. Our big issue was then. All our stats now are showing us things are getting better.”
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He added: “Days like yesterday, where we had the snow and crashes everywhere, we can’t do anything about that.
“Our services would have been awful yesterday morning because of that and the conditions of the road.
“The number of journey cancellations have come right down as we are getting more on top of the situation. If people are inconvenienced, we apologise for that.
“We are doing everything we can to get back to the level of performance we were at prior to June last year.”
Mr Jarvis said he thought staff turnover had increased by more than 50% since the strike last year. First Aberdeen lost around 70 drivers in the months after the industrial action over pay and conditions.
Ms Aitken told the public inquiry she wanted to fine the company as much as £62,000, but took into account the firm’s admission of failings.
She said: “What we have here is First Aberdeen, the operator, coming to me with their hands up. It makes a difference as not everyone does this.
“There has been candour towards me in terms of admitting things have not gone well in 2018 and the public have been let down.”
She added: “I think a figure of £50,000 might mark this as serious for the people of Aberdeen.
“For members of the public, I’m going to make an order which requires First Aberdeen to pay £50,000.
“The payment will be made to the Scottish Government and go into the public funds.”
First Aberdeen has been given 28 days to pay the fine.