Ulsterbus and Citybus: v. 6

The Hesketh Years 1988-2003, Buses in Ulster

G.Irvine Millar

Foreword by Ted Hesketh, CBE Former Managing Director, Translink – This is the sixth book in the ‘Buses in Ulster’ series published by Colourpoint Books. They are to be congratulated for bringing the story of Ulsterbus and Citybus to a wider audience, and putting it on record for future generations. During the first two decades of the ‘Troubles’, the men and women of Ulsterbus and Citybus had to cope with unprecedented difficulties. My predecessor, Werner Heubeck, gave outstanding leadership when it would have been so easy to throw in the towel. To keep buses running normally was the top priority and everything else was secondary. My early days with Ulsterbus were focussed on keeping the finances in good order when buses were being destroyed in quantity; compensation was a thorny issue, and revenues were subject to frequent disruption. Gradually, as Mr Heubeck’s deputy, I took on additional responsibilities such as industrial tribunals, property development, etc; Mr Heubeck gave me a lot of scope in the day to day running of the business so the transition to Managing Director was relatively smooth. The worst of the ‘Troubles’ had passed when I became MD in 1988.Even so, this volume records nearly 250 buses totally destroyed by terrorism during my time as MD.Thankfully no staff were killed. In 1996, we erected a ceramic wall panel in Laganside Buscentre to commemorate the twelve busmen killed earlier in the ‘Troubles’. With the passage of time it is very pleasing that the heroism of our bus drivers, and all the staff who supported them during the ‘Troubles’, is increasingly recognised. I hope that in time there will be a more substantial memorial for those killed and injured, which will also record the bravery of the very many who, on a daily basis, displayed great courage to maintain services throughout the ‘Troubles’. Like most bus companies, Ulsterbus faced declining passenger numbers due to the growth in private car usage. Introduction of a market led approach saw the development of many new services, real improvements to the quality of all services and much better public information. Strenuous efforts went into creating a new climate of industrial relations, and this helped avoid unnecessary service disruptions. There was increasing recognition that many of our staff work unsocial hours which can impact on family life.By way of “thank you” we ran a series of Family Fun Days for partners and children – hugely enjoyed by all!A previously untold success story was the effective blocking of proposals to privatise and deregulate bus services in the Province. These proposals were wholly unsuited to Northern Ireland and had they succeeded there is little doubt that Ulsterbus, as we know it, would no longer exist. As always there is unfinished business. The E-way and Super-route busway schemes are long term projects conceived during the period covered by this book. Less well known are similar schemes going into north and west Belfast. Some of the land currently blighted by the peace line offers a unique opportunity to develop a new busway to benefit the entire community. I hope that future volumes of ‘Buses in Ulster’ will be able to carry reports of substantial progress on these schemes. I am proud to have played a part in the history of these two great companies. From retirement, I look back with fondness to a most enjoyable time working in both Ulsterbus and Citybus with some of the best professionals in the business. Despite all the problems and the long hours we still managed to have some fun!From the start of Ulsterbus in 1967 until he retired in 2001, Irvine Millar was a valued member of the senior management.During the period of this volume he developed his initial role as management auditor, to create a specialism embracing the whole area of bus priority measures. He even managed to convince some of our colleagues in Road Service that building more roads is not necessarily the best answer to every traffic problem, and that sometimes public transport has a role to play! Irvine’s extensive knowledge of buses has been put to good use in this book. He goes beyond the detailed recording of fleet changes to trace the history of service development and touches on many other aspects of Ulsterbus and Citybus to the reader’s benefit and it is with great pleasure that I commend it to you.

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The Hesketh Years of NI public transport were to be very different. Out went the spartan interiors with fibreglass seats and in came new, brighter trim and liveries. This was also the time when the Goldline brand, with new, higher quality vehicles, was introduced, as was the Translink fleet name. Double-deckers also made a return to Belfast.


Format: Paperback / Softback

ISBN / EAN: 9781904242284

Published On: 1 November, 2006

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Colourpoint Books

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