Thursday, 19 January 2006

Public transport

<![CDATA[ Stornoway bus station
I think I'll putting the cat amongst the pigeons, but here goes.

For various reasons, it might be an idea to take the bus rather than the car.
Obviously, this public transport should be there when you need it. Here in Lewis, I think we've got quite a reasonable network of bus services, by all accounts much better than it was years ago. At the very least, it is possible to travel from rural districts to Stornoway in the morning, to arrive there by 9 o'clock. Outward bound service depart in the afternoon (to take school children home) and early evening, for workers.

What happens during the daytime is quite variable. The service to the district of Uig is about the worst around. The first bus, a 16 seater postbus, leaves S'way at midday. Naturally, the demand should be there in the first place, but it does look very meagre. The postbus service is fine, but it takes 90 minutes to cover 35 miles, as it has to deliver mail along the way, starting at Scaliscro Lodge.
The West Side of the island is fairly well provided, although here too first buses after the school cum workers run do not appear until midday. Comhairle nan Eileanan Siar run buses from Point to Back at very regular intervals, at least hourly through the day. Ness is also fairly well served, roughly 2 hourly buses. The route to Tarbert is patchy; some days of the week there is a 12.30 service, but on others the first bus does not go until 14.20.

I have make extensive use of the bus network in Lewis, and am pretty satisfied, all things considered. This is a thinly populated area, with a good service. Earlier in 2005, someone stated that there was no bus service in Lewis to get into town in the morning, and out again at night, which is inaccurate. There is always room for improvement.

On the Lochs road, near the Grimshader turnoffBus drivers will drop you off outside your door if the route goes past.
There is a relaxed atmosphere on the buses. In town, you can board the bus, even if the driver isn't there yet. If you're a regular, and you only have a large denomination banknote to pay your fare, he may trust you to pay when you go back. At one time, a driver asked me what the fare was for the run I was doing regularly at the time, and I told him. Truthfully!

Mentioning fares, I don't feel there is reason for complaint. For a return journey from Stornoway to Ness (25 miles one way) you only pay

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