OXFORD Bus Company has considered building a staff dormitory to make sure it can recruit enough drivers.

The firm said the idea could tackle the shortage of affordable housing in Oxford.

Oxford Bus Company finance director Luke Marion said: “The big change over the last few years is that those people who can’t afford to buy in Oxford now can’t afford to rent.”

Mr Marion said the Oxford Bus Company had a responsibility to “look after its passengers and ensure there are enough drivers to keep services running”.

He said: “It’s not a pressing issue at the moment, but as a prudent management team we have discussed many ideas to keep recruitment on track.”

The idea harks back to the 1960s and 1970s, when there was a dormitory at the firm’s former Cowley Road depot.

Drivers from as far afield as North Wales stayed there while working several shifts in a row.

But it had been disused for many years by the time the firm moved to its present Watlington Road base in 2004.

Mr Marion added: “These are different circumstances from the sixties. This time it’s the availability of affordable housing that’s the issue.

“A dormitory is one of the options discussed but it’s not gone any further than that.

“It may be that it’s an idea that we will look more closely at if the need arises.”

Oxford is one of the least affordable places in the country, with a one-bedroom flat costing £15,240 a year to rent on average, half the average wage of £30,000 a year.

Mr Marion said high land prices in Oxford would make it difficult to build a staff housing block.

He added: “It may be that the very factors that create the need for a new dormitory may frustrate attempts to build one.

“There is no spare land at our current headquarters and we’d have to find somewhere to build it.

“So, we could be held back by the same shortage of land that affects everyone in Oxford.”

The Oxford Bus Company, owned by the Go-Ahead Group, is one of the city’s biggest private employers with 579 staff.

City council deputy leader Ed Turner warned recruitment was becoming a problem for employers.

He said: “Oxford is becoming a ghetto for the wealthy but where will our nurses come from?

“When we talk to the local health authority, their biggest problem is with recruitment.”