WATCH: Rowland Savage, 90, hails public transport ‘a lifeline’

A 90-year-old Lisburn man who had to give up driving after developing problems with his vision as a result of a brain tumour has spoken about how public transport has been “a lifeline” for him.

Rowland Savage told how he relies on his local Ulsterbus services to visit loved ones and travel to Hollybrook Nurseries, where he literally digs in and helps out with the gardening. He also relies on the bus to get to the cemetery to visit the graves of his wife and daughter.

Rowland Savage said his local bus services have been 'a lifeline' since he was forced to give up driving due to eyesight problems.

Rowland Savage said his local bus services have been 'a lifeline' since he was forced to give up driving due to eyesight problems.

He was speaking during Translink’s Bus + Train Week 2019 (June 3 - 9), which encourages people across Northern Ireland to use public transport.

Rowland is featured in this year’s Connections Photography Exhibition – a unique display of images which focus on people using public transport and how the services connect people and places – at Lanyon Place Station (formerly Central Station) in Belfast.

Despite ill-health, Rowland’s get-up-and-go has never faltered and he’s still very active. But having had to give up driving, he is thankful that there is a bus stop not far from his home.

“A few years ago I was diagnosed with a brain tumour that was affecting my eyesight and at that point, as I was already in my late 80s, I decided it was time to give up driving for good,” he explained.

Rowland Savage, 90, says public transport helps him stay connected with family and friends.

Rowland Savage, 90, says public transport helps him stay connected with family and friends.

“Thankfully there is a bus stop just across the road from my home. This has been a lifeline for me. My church is three miles away and my wife and daughter are buried there too. The bus allows me to stay connected with my friends and family.

“Although I am not as mobile as I used to be, I can still get out and about, and lead a pretty normal lifestyle with the help of Nellie, my walking aid.”

Stressing the importance of public transport in his day-to-day life, Rowland continued: “I couldn’t exist without it. The bus stop is eight minutes walk from where I live – it’s 10 minutes back though as it’s uphill!

“I love being out and about and using the bus allows me to do that. If it’s a good day I’ll take the bus to Belfast and see around the Titanic centre or Belfast City Hall or Crumlin Road Gaol.”

Rowland regularly uses the bus to visit his son Terry in Newry and his brother, also named Terry, in Ballynahinch who suffers from dementia.

And it’s not just local journeys Rowland takes. He recently used public transport for a trip to Co Donegal.

“My son needed a parcel delivered in Letterkenny the other day so I hopped on and off the buses until I got there,” he explained. “I dropped off the parcel and then got a burger and a cup of tea for five euros fifty, then came home. The whole trip cost me five euros fifty – great value!”

Despite his advancing years, Rowland said he’s no intention of calling a halt to his travels any time soon.

“I’m a great example of the benefits of public transport – my life wouldn’t be the same without it,” he said.

The Connections Exhibition at Lanyon Place Station is open to the public until the end of summer.

For more information and details of special offers log on to www.translink.co.uk/busandtrainweek