Management & Operations

Ireland's buses offer history at Routes Festival

Posted on June 1, 2002

The enduring image of the Northern Ireland Troubles is the burning bus. But, despite being in the frontline of hundreds of attacks, bus drivers have stopped short of withdrawing their services. Now, their contribution to stability in the country is being recognized and celebrated in a city-wide festival. The Routes Festival, held in May, depicts the lives of bus drivers. "It tells the story of the bus workers through photographs, plays, films and writing in order to focus public attention on the enormous contribution they have made to community relations and relative stability while sharing some of their humor and resilience," said Ruth Graham, organizer of the event. The opening event, a play titled "Kings of the Road," told the story of three generations of a Belfast family who had all worked on the buses. The play was based on bus workers' real experiences. Audience members were presented with a specially-produced newspaper, The Busworker, that contained articles and first-person stories about life on the buses. Running through the narratives was a sense of pride in the bus workers' stance against sectarianism in an increasingly divided Northern Ireland. One of the highlights of the festival was a re-creation of the No. 77 bus route, which crossed Belfast before the city's notorious "peacelines" (10-meter walls) were constructed to keep the warring factions apart. Drivers and passengers who traveled the route, until it was discontinued in the 1970s, were interviewed about their experiences. One bus driver recalled the murder of a colleague, who was shot as he drove his bus along Crumlin Road in North Belfast in May 1977. The murdered driver was shot by militant Protestants because he and other bus drivers were working in defiance of a general strike. The heroism of bus drivers in the country was highlighted at a seminar held at the festival. Anne Jordan, a photographer whose pictures of bus workers were exhibited, recalled an interview with a retired driver. "He was 75 years of age and he had given 50 years of service to the buses," she said. "At the height of the Troubles in the '70s, he had been taken off the bus, had a bag put over his head and had a gun put to his head. He didn't know what was going to happen. For a bus driver to go through that is ridiculous. He's just out there doing his job -- a completely innocent man." "We've had 12 bus drivers murdered and thousands of injuries, some so serious that the drivers weren't able to return to work," said David Glover, bus driver and branch chairman of the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers' Union, which partly funded the festival. "We felt it was important to tell the story of the bus workers over the past 30-odd years because their story has never been told." This is the first year the festival, which drew 3,000 to 4,000, has been held. The festival's organizers plan to take the concept to South Africa and other post-conflict zones where bus workers have played a similar role as they have in Ireland. Laura Haydon

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

LA Metro taps Parsons to modernize RIITS communications

Provides transportation operations a consolidated, data-rich, and near real-time source of information for transportation in Southern California via an interface that allows for coordinated transportation management throughout the region.

NJ Transit reinstates MCI Commuter Coach order

In July 2016, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had issued Executive Order No. 210 directing the immediate and orderly shutdown of all ongoing work funded under the TTFA.

New transit planning group director joins HNTB

Steven Greene will be responsible for the development and support of the firm’s expanding multimodal transit planning practice, focusing on transit and corridor studies.

Gannon appointed to permanent GM post for King County Metro

Gannon, 47, served as interim GM from March 2016 until now. He was Metro Deputy GM from 2013-2016, and Human Resources manager for the King County DOT from 2011-2013.

Fla.'s HART to develop autonomous circulator route

The project would be one of the first of its kind in the U.S. utilizing autonomous technology and has the potential to become a genuine problem solver, according to FDOT and HART.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close