THERE is “light at the end of the tunnel” for Borders Buses following weeks of cancellations, a meeting has heard.

Earlier this year the firm axed a number of services due to a combination of staff illness and driver shortages.

But despite the stripped-back timetable – expected to be in place until the end of June – planned journeys continued to be decimated on a regular basis.

The issue was discussed at this month’s meeting of Galashiels Community Council.

Scottish Borders Council leader Euan Jardine, of the Conservatives, said he had spoken with Borders Buses.

Explaining some of the issues the firm had faced, he said: “It’s a lot of illness that has happened, there have been drivers who have been trained who have just left.

“They’re trying their best, some of them are working seven days a week.”

Borders Buses announced that it would run a full service on Thursday, June 9, after drivers gave up rest days, swapped shifts and agreed to work extra hours.

The firm said that the next three weeks would be challenging but that the situation would improve once the schools stop for summer.

Mr Jardine – the only Galashiels councillor of the four elected that attended the meeting – said that the firm was also training new drivers.

He also said that a recruitment drive at Borders College could help the situation.

“They can see the light at the end of the tunnel but we’re not quite there yet,” he said.

“One thing they’re trying to do is get the confidence back in public transport in the Borders.”

Galashiels community councillor John Birnie said his granddaughter was recently stranded in Edinburgh overnight due to train cancellations.

And Mr Birnie said that more people would turn to buses as long as the railway issues continue.

“Everyone is heading to the bus because they can’t get a train,” he said.

“If this train thing carries on you’re going to find that the buses are overwhelmed.”

He added: “People are going to be thinking, if you go to Edinburgh or go to the Borders can you get back?

“I just hope that the buses will stand up and be the alternative to the trains.”

Last week a deal was struck that could end the pay dispute between ScotRail and its train drivers.

Aslef, the union representing drivers, agreed a five per cent pay deal after negotiations with the rail provider’s management.

At the Galashiels meeting, Mr Jardine said improving public transport should be a priority in 2022.