Bus drivers working for Galson Motors have said a sad farewell to routes they have driven for many years, as council budget cuts hit routes between the Westside and town.
Saturday night (October 12th) saw the last night services to be run by a large coach to the Ness and Westside area, as the next seven-year contract is likely to be provided by a 16-seater minibus and by another company.
Next week’s new half-term will see a new contract period for school bus services, and Galson Motors have not been re-selected to provide services on some of these or on some public routes.
As the 72-year-old company closed the door on an era in island transport history, they posted a farewell message on social media, saying: “Most people will be aware that we have lost most of our services in the recent tendering process. The Comhairle’s budget constraints meant that they accepted a timetable option that offered greater savings than our proposal.
“Although we will not be operating public service or school buses from Ness to Stornoway, we will still be serving Sgoil An Taobh Siar and Shawbost School from the Westside area. Yesterday (Thursday October 10th) was the last day for us on the Borve and Ness school contracts to the Nicolson, and Galson to Sgoil an Taobh Siar.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the passengers and customers over the years for their support and hope to be of service to you all again in the future. We would like to thank all our drivers and mechanics, past and present, for their commitment and dedication to help us serve the community over the last 72 years.”
News of the impact from the service cuts, which includes drivers losing their jobs, has both saddened and angered many who have used the services over the years. One Westsider commented: “So sorry to be reading this. Going over the Barvas Moor without seeing ‘bus a’ Mhilleachan’ just doesn’t seem right.” While another said: “A very sad day. It is particularly sad that an operator which has consistently shown the highest standards with excellent customer care away beyond what one normally sees even in rural communities should have lost this work.”
Galson Motors is to expand their garage service, with some of their bus mechanics moving into the garage business, and will still be offering minibus and private coach hire.
The picture shows some of Galson Motors’ drivers after signing off from the final evening service to Ness and the Westside on Saturday (Galson Motors).