Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Coronavirus: 'Heartbreak' of driving an empty bus in a ghost town

Robina Bonar Image copyright Lenny Warren
Image caption Robina Bonar said she has been very lonely while driving a bus during the lockdown

Robina Bonar has been "crying inside and singing outside" while driving her empty bus down the eerie streets of Edinburgh and the Lothians.

The First Bus driver is "heartbroken" by the lack of passengers and said she was finding it hard to remain upbeat.

Robina, 41, said she rarely saw anyone in the empty streets.

"Some days there is nobody on my bus all day, and other times there are just one or two. It is very demoralising," she said.

"Edinburgh is like a ghost town. There is no traffic, no stopping, and no getting annoyed as people suddenly cross the road in front of you. It's the wee things you miss.

"The longer this is going on the harder it is mentally to keep going. I want it to end and to go back to normal."

Image caption Robina said Princes Street in Edinburgh is currently "like a ghost town"

Robina, from Rosyth in Fife, covers 12 routes in West Lothian and Edinburgh.

Robina said: "I'm an upbeat, cheery person, but any passengers I have had during the lockdown have not been in the mood. They are stressed and worried and so the atmosphere is not the same.

"We are not allowed to socialise either back at the depot, which changes the whole dynamic of the job, so it's really difficult just now."

She does not have to wear PPE to do her job because she is seated behind a screen.

The holes in the screen have now been covered up, which makes it "a real struggle" to hear what people are saying when they get on board.

"Some of the seats have been taped off. We are not telling people where to sit but we've not had enough coming on board for it to be a problem," she added.

Image copyright Lenny Warren
Image caption Robina Bonar covers 12 routes in West Lothian and Edinburgh

Normally Robina would carry more than 100 passengers every day.

She said: "I think I have been a lifeline to those who do get on my bus, though, as I drop them off at a supermarket."

Sometimes those passengers would get back on the bus without any bags of shopping.

"It is as if it was just for somewhere for them to go out," said Robina.

"I did also have an older lady clapping from the other side of the road with her thumbs up to tell me that they really appreciate the bus service still being on.

"The little things like that have been keeping me going."

Robina said it had been "eerie" driving on the deserted streets.

"I'm not scared, it's just very lonely. I've been singing to myself and trying to keep upbeat.

"We also obviously can't run early, so I've been stopping the bus at every second stop and driving very slowly.

"I am heartbroken as my job is to take people to places but at the moment they have no place to go."

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