THERE are calls for a bus company to make urgent improvements in Clackmannanshire after it recorded more than £226million in profits.

MSP Mark Ruskell has called on First Bus to make improvements to services in the area after it reported operating profits of £226.8m across the whole First group, up from £220.2m the year before.

The company worked with an operating margin of 4.1 per cent before adjustments, up from 3.2 per cent the year before.

First Bus alone made £45.2m, up from £36.6m.

MSP Ruskell previously aired his deep frustration with the company when it increased prices earlier in May, against a backdrop of numerous service cancellations amid a drivers' shortage.

He said: "The frequent cancellation of First Bus services across Clackmannanshire has been an ongoing saga for local residents, with folks left stranded at bus stops for hours, unsure whether their service will eventually arrive.

"Earlier this year, First Bus increased their fares for their East Scotland services.

"And just this week, the First Group company posted increased profits on last year of £226m.

"With services frankly not up to scratch in the region, it's deeply frustrating that First Bus continue to shunt costs onto passengers whilst shareholders profit.

"I urge First Bus to urgently address the serious failures in service provision across Clacks, and ensure my constituents have the affordable, accessible and reliable public transport services they deserve."

In its results for the 52 weeks to March 26 in 2022, the company said: "While some uncertainty remains around the pace of recovery, current trading is in line with our expectations with the group expected to make significant further progress in FY [financial year] 2023."

Duncan Cameron, managing director for First Bus Scotland, said: "First Scotland East is one of a number of bus companies that makes up First Bus, and each company runs as an independent business.

"Scottish Government funding received during the pandemic meant we could continue to keep vital transport links in Scotland running, on a broadly break-even basis – even when customer demand reduced.

"First Scotland East has underperformed over a number of years, incurring losses as a result. Despite this, we continue to operate routes across the region to maintain the network.

"We are continuing to work hard to overcome the significant industry-wide driver shortages we are experiencing which continue to have an effect on service levels."