CITYBUS has given itself barely 10 weeks to get its service up to scratch after what it recognises was a less than brilliant beginning. Mark Savelli, divisional manager (south) for Citybus, said the company had given itself until Lunar New Year to reach the standards it had set itself. ''By then we should be exceeding the level of service that we have to provide according to our franchise,'' he said. By January, 15 new air-conditioned buses would be running, and by this time next year that figure could rise to 65, he said. And he promised no price rises until next September at the earliest. ''We will only do that when the time is right, and the time is certainly not right now.'' He said Citybus had suffered tremendous problems trying to launch a 26-route bus service from scratch all on one day, September 1, with hardly any practice. Some drivers had never driven a bus with passengers before, while others had got hopelessly lost. On one occasion in September, a Southern District driver had taken the wrong turn and refused angry passengers' demands to return to the scheduled route. ''We were surprised by the scale and magnitude of the job. It takes time for people who have never worked together before to start working as a team.'' He said that if the Government ever planned a similar change-over in franchise holder it should ensure it happened in stages. Complaints to the Transport Complaints Unit had run as high as 111 in September, but had fallen to 80 in October and 28 in the first 22 days of November, he said. Many drivers had left the company - mainly because they had found it difficult to travel into work. ''We wanted drivers that lived close to the operation, but we had to employ people that lived further away. Many of those have left.'' He said job applications were averaging seven a week. The company now had 275 full-time drivers and would soon reach its target of 300. But he was concerned that if the airport projects went ahead, some drivers might decide they wanted to sign up to drive trucks. The company might then ask for permission to import drivers from China. Provided the company could reach its short-term goals, he said people would see some big changes to bus travel in Hong Kong. The 100 secondhand buses bought from Singapore would be phased out within three years.