Friday, 26 June 2015

Stornoway Special

In my previous post I reported on my trip around the Isle of Harris while on a very short break to the Outer Hebrides. Today I will concentrate on the Isle of Lewis and its Capital, Stornoway. Stornoway has a popuation of around 6,000 - the same as Halesworth and less then Cromer or Sherngham. Yet the bus network is simply amazing. To put it into perspective Halesworth has around 50 bus journeys a day either arriving or leaving the town. Stornoway has 250 ALL of which are sponsored by the Western Isles Council. The Isle of Eriskay has a population of 173 and has up to 10 buses a day. I live in a village of 550 and have 4 buses a week. And yes the Islands have dial-a-ride style community transport too.

Here is pic of the timetable for the route I used to and from my guesthouse in Melbost. You may have to click on it and enlarge to read it properly but it demonstrates the frequencies out there. Note the late journeys on Friday and Saturday nights. All routes have them. Incidentally that is ony a summary timetable - the actual route is much longer.

Summary timetable for the W5 between Stornoway and Melbost

So what is used on the island to carry people around? Well the W5 is operated by a fleet of 5 34 seater Optare Solo SR's, owned by the Council.

Optare Solo SR YJ14 BDY at Stornoway Bus Station
There are few other proper buses on the Island. There is one E200, which will have its own post in due course, and apart from a couple of unidentifiied school buses only one other bus - this Plaxton Centro bodied VDL SB200, also owned by the Council.

VDL SB200 YN07 KGU at Stornoway Bus Station
All other services are operated by coach, and one coach in particular caught my eye on the servce to Uig. This Irizar bodied Scania K114 was new to Allan of Gorebridge as B17 DWA. It was given its current regstration before being sold to Graham Urquart Travel in Inverness, Gibson Direct of  Renfrew then operated it as G13BSO before it was sold to MacLennan of Stornoway. Thanks to busmanscotland on Flickr for the info.

MacLennan Coaches cania K114 Irizar SK54 BPY at Stornoway Bus Station
Finally a couple of pics of the Bus Station and of the harbour from the Bus Station. In the second picture the recently withdrawn Caledonian Macbrayne ferry Isle of Lewis can be seen in the background. Recntly replaced by a newer ferry this vessel is kept in operating condition and shortly after I took the pic it set sail. Note the highly unusual weather for Stornoway!

Stornoway Bus Station
Stornoway harbour taken from the Bus Station

That's just about it. There will be another post on the most Northwesterly E200 in the UK, but if this has whetted any appetites and some of you now want to visit these magical islands yourself then the timetable website can be accessed here. It really shows what can be done when a Council gets its public transport policy prioritised.

No comments:

Post a Comment