Under the terms of its contract, CT Plus should ‘maintain a sufficient number of back-up drivers to ensure a continuous service delivery’.
Environment & Infrastructure president Lindsay de Sausmarez confirmed the breach but said the committee did not intend to take any action against the company in the particular circumstances.
‘There’s been a perfect storm of factors affecting the bus service in the last couple of years and some of them are well and truly beyond the control of either CT Plus or the States,’ she said.
This week, 49 services were cancelled on Monday and 60 yesterday. That works out as about 20% of timetabled services.
The company has also not started its extra summer services – which should have started before Easter.
Lowering the minimum age for bus drivers to 18 and increasing their pay for the second time in recent weeks are two options about to be brought in after E&I set out to help CT Plus cope with its driver shortage.
Brexit has been a fundamental issue in attracting people to the island to drive buses, but the pandemic has also had a significant effect.
E&I said it was working with the company to try to find solutions.
‘There are things we think we can do to improve the situation and we’re really keen to do whatever it takes to get our fabulous bus service back up to where it used to be,’ said Deputy de Sausmarez.
CT Plus regional director Kevin Hart said some time ago that he wanted to see the minimum age for drivers reduced from 21 to 18, in line with the UK, and this is something E&I now plans to bring about.
There will be a condition that the applicant must have held a Category B licence for at least a year.
‘It comes down to the question of how can we recruit more drivers,’ said Deputy de Sausmarez.
‘We’re also looking at increasing pay to make it a more competitive offer. CT Plus and the States have contributed towards an increase in wages to bring them into line with where we think they should be.’
Karl Guille, director of Traffic & Highway Services, said that an improved pay structure had been agreed between E&I and CT Plus – among which is an enhanced rate for drivers who agree to work on a rest day.
Another area that is impacting on recruitment is the housing restrictions affecting non-local drivers, who currently can live here for a year.
Mr Guille said E&I would be talking to Home Affairs about options for longer-term permits and associated immigration visas.
CT Plus will continue to look at other initiatives to recruit locally.
E&I thanked existing bus drivers and staff at CT Plus for their efforts.