Welcoming the tourists back to the Western Isles

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SC15 ZNK (previously LSK 514) is one of two former Parks of Hamilton Plaxton Elite Volvo B9Rs acquired in 2020 by Lochs Motor Transport, and seen on Stornoway harbour with Lews Castle in the background. RICHARD WALTER

Richard Walter catches up with Roddy Macdonald, Director of Lochs Motor Transport on the Isle of Lewis, to find out what has changed in the four years since his last visit

Set in the beautiful Outer Hebrides, the islands of Lewis and Harris have challenges faced by few other areas in the UK. Weather can change rapidly from sunny to stormy. Buses often have to cope with the worst of conditions and there are a number of single track roads where great care has to be taken to prevent falling into ditches. I chose to visit the islands at the end of June when the weather was very typical and changeable. Had I waited until early July, I would have experienced much sunnier and warmer conditions during the unforgettable UK heatwave. However it was still a good opportunity to catch up with public transport developments.

Adjusting to the aftermath

Four years might not normally be a particularly long time, but a lot has happened since Lochs Motor Transport was last featured in CBW back in 2018. As with other operators across the globe, the effects of Covid-19 were a major blow with the company seeing its tour and private hire work cease for most of 2020. Thankfully the situation had improved by the summer of 2021. Firstly, cruise ships started returning to the Western Isles. These massive vessels berth off Stornoway with passengers being brought into harbour by small boats to be picked up by coaches from the local operators for short tours of local attractions. It’s a very profitable business to all forms of community hospitality, including coach operators, and the return of the big ships was welcomed.


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