PROFITS are up at Greenock bus company McGill's with owners Sandy and James Easdale celebrating a pre-tax posting of £1.4 million.

The public transport operator has bucked the trend and posted healthy financial figures despite an industry-wide slowdown, according to the firm's latest set of annual accounts.

In the 12 months to December 30, 2018, McGill's made a pre-tax profit of just under £1.4m on a turnover of £38m.

Chairman James Easdale said: "Our profits are up thanks to a realignment of our business and skilful management of our resources and a 27 per cent decline in our administration charges. "My brother and fellow shareholder, Sandy, and our MD, Ralph Roberts, have worked extremely hard to make this business more efficient and profitable.

"The year saw a continuation of passenger decline that has prevailed in the industry since 2015. "The decline was driven by low retail activity brought on by the decline of the high street."

After deductions, the company made a profit of £1m - up by £954k on the previous year - despite turnover falling by £1.5m to £38m.

But McGill's chiefs insist much more needs to be done by the authorities to support bus operators.

Director Sandy Easdale, who owns the company with his younger brother, said: "Given the climate emergency now declared, local authorities need to prioritise the bus over the car. "Buses are the answer to congestion and poor air quality whereas the car is the cause of them. "We need more bus shelters, more parking management and better road works management which will contribute to healthier and wealthier lives for the public."

McGill's employs more than 800 staff across its headquarters in Larkfield Road and depots in Hamilton, Inchinnan and Johnstone.

Ralph Roberts, the company's managing director, said: "Government policy at national and local level favours the car and train with the bulk of infrastructure investment going to these two modes. "Buses deliver 74 per cent of public transport journeys yet this mode receives peppercorn levels of infrastructure investment. "We are talking to government at a national level to release more funding for the bus user but local government sees this as high risk as it will bring voter backlash from car users. "Local politicians need to remember that buses users are also voters.

"The bulk of our business revenues are earned in the local authority area which has the highest car ownership in Scotland - Renfrewshire - so it is unsurprising that this local authority chooses this polluting mode over green public transport when looking at where they spend their budget. "Road traffic is up 29 per cent since 1990 and this is the inevitable conclusion of these car centric policies."

The company is owned by Arranglen Ltd, the investment vehicle of the Easdale family.

McGill's operates over 400 buses across 110 routes throughout the west of Scotland, with almost 750,000 journeys made on a McGill's bus every week.

Since 2014, £21m has been invested in the fleet and infrastructure.