Fifty years of Ulsterbus: A ‘symbol of normality’ during the Troubles

Frank Clegg received an MBE for his long service to public transport in Northern Ireland

Frank Clegg received an MBE for his long service to public transport in Northern Ireland

During the Troubles, thousands of buses were destroyed and a dozen drivers lost their lives in Northern Ireland

However, the then manager of Ulsterbus said buses brought a ‘sense of normality’ to that period.

As Ulsterbus celebrates its 50th anniversary, Frank Clegg, who received an MBE for his long service to public transport, said: “Throughout the Troubles the fact that a bus was the only vehicle that would go up a road was symbolic.

“It brought a sense of normality. Buses were a key feature of keeping Northern Ireland going and this was down to the forbearance and co-operation of staff to maintain services.”

He added: “There were drivers that gave their life for the maintenance of public transport and there’s a commemorative plaque in Laganside Bus Centre that honours those drivers.

“More than 1,500 buses were completely destroyed during the Troubles. Buses were seen as an easy target, they were easily manoeuvrable and they were of a size that they could block roads and unfortunately when they’d fulfilled that purpose they tended to be set on fire.

“It meant we had to redo timetables many times overnight to offer the best services we could with the number of vehicles we had and the routes that were open to us.”