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05 Mar 2021
To celebrate 50 years of bus services on Skye, local bus operator Stagecoach has repainted one of their buses in the same paint scheme as the service had in 1970 when it was operated by Highland Omnibuses.
Stagecoach has operated the services on the island for the last 13 years when the company was taken over from previous operator Rapsons in 2008.
Two of the Bus Drivers who have a combined 78 years of bus driving experience are proud to be serving the communities around Skye today.
Alec Macfarlane was born on Skye and has been driving buses since 1983. Alec has been driving service 56 between Portree and Dunvegan for 19 years and has seen a lot of change in that time.
Commenting on his time driving buses, Alec said: “I love how rewarding my job is with the different people I get to see each day. I’ve watched hundreds of kids grow up on Skye using my school buses and now even drive some of their kids to school too. A lot has changed since I first started driving, the technology we’ve seen over the last few years has made a big difference to how easy it is for people to use our rural services, they really are a lifeline to the communities around Skye.”
Another long serving bus driver, Jim Cummings has been driving buses since 1981 before relocating to Skye in 2003. Jim’s father Bill was also a bus driver and controller in Braemar for 42 years. Jim is usually found behind the wheel of service 52 connecting Armadale to Portree and has been driving this route for more than 12 years.
When asked about the changes he has seen in his time driving buses, Jim said: “There has been a lot of change in 40 years – from Leyland Leopards with crash gearboxes to tri-axle modern automatics now. I even remember the laminated windscreens we had that if they got damaged you would be covered in broken glass! Safety has come a long way in that time.”
David Beaton, Managing Director for Stagecoach Highland said: “We’re really proud to be keeping the communities around Skye connected in what has been one of the most challenging years in the transport industry. Our anniversary bus looks fantastic and we’ll look forward to seeing what the next 50 years brings for services on the island.”
Stagecoach employ 23 people in the Portree Depot operating a fleet of 15 buses and coaches covering over 500,000 miles each year. The anniversary bus can now be seen on routes around Skye.
LtoR - Alec Macfarlane (Driver, Stagecoach Skye), Jim Cummings (Driver, Stagecoach Skye), Paul Fenner (Operations Manager, Stagecoach Skye), David Beaton (Managing Director, Stagecoach Highland).