An Aberdeen bus driver has spoken of the eerie feeling driving through a “ghost town” during lockdown.
John Gillies, 33, is a driver and supervisor at First Aberdeen, and has played a vital role in keeping things moving, quite literally, during lockdown by transporting other key workers to and from their jobs at supermarkets, hospitals and elsewhere.
Most people’s jobs, if they’re able to work at all at present, have changed drastically over the last few months, but as a bus driver John’s is certainly one of them.
Instead of battling busy city centre traffic, he’s had to get used to almost deserted streets and had the difficult task of social distancing inside the vehicle.
John, who stays in Mugiemoss with his wife Gemma and young son Alfie, said:”It’s strange because there are very few passengers out there and a lot less cars on the road.
“Aberdeen is a bit of a ghost town at the minute.
“We are used to timetables being tight but manageable. Now it’s completely changed to us having a lot of time and having to stop every few stops in order for us to stick to our times.”
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First Bus has done everything they can to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
He said: “They have provided gloves, hand sanitiser, a protective film to cover the small holes on the cab door and they have introduced social distancing measures both in the depot when you book in for your bus and on the buses themselves by blocking off the seats at the front.
“They have also removed seats in the canteen which means we are more than two metres apart at all times.
“It’s been difficult at times. As i said previously, we have changed our approach in the depot.
“We are only allowed four drivers to book in at any one time, whereas it is normally as many as we could fit in the room.
“The most challenging thing is social distancing on the bus, but customers have been really understanding and patient.
“There has been the odd exception here and there where people just barge their way past others who are trying to leave the vehicle, but the majority of passengers are very good.
“They will stand to the side and give folk plenty of space to get off and they will space themselves out when picking a seat for their journey.
“They have been very understanding throughout this crisis.”
Being a key worker and having to keep going out and interacting with others during the pandemic can be a daunting task for some, but John said Aberdonians have been excellent at sticking to the rules and he did not feel in any danger.
He said: “I do feel safe.
“Everyone in Aberdeen is doing a great job in sticking to Government guidelines.
“Most people are staying indoors.
“The shops are doing a great job with social distancing too, which is good news to everyone.
“It’s good to know that us drivers are keeping the city moving by transporting NHS staff to and from their work.
“It’s also nice to know that a lot of people out there think of us too.
“I personally don’t take any credit because i’m not doing anything special. I just see it as doing my job.
“I have a lot of protection in the cab and on the bus, whereas, the doctors and nurses deserve all the praise and credit and they are coming into direct contact with Covid-9 on a daily basis.
“They are the true heroes in all of this.”
And outside of work John is delighted to go home to his family after a tough shift.
He said: “The first thing I do is go straight home to see my wife and Alfie. It’s a relief to know they are safe and sound indoors.
“I then go and change my clothes, get washed, etc, before I can greet them as you never know what surface the virus could be lurking on so better to be safe than sorry.
“The lockdown measures are there for a reason.
“It’s frustrating being stuck at home, but the majority of us realise it is for the best and we are all willing to do our bit to get our normal life back – especially when you see on the news what the NHS Staff are going through on the front line daily. They are an inspiration.”