Closure of bus station (Johann Siebert)

Margaret Thatcher once remarked anyone who didn’t drive to work in their own car was a social failure.

It seems the SIC shares this contempt for those who may use public road transport for reasons of economy, convenience or even principle if the sudden closure on Monday of the Viking Bus Station building – the culmination of the gradual running down of the facility over the past two years beginning with the removal of the lift and much of the seating, and including the recent disappearance of the wall clock presented by architects responsible for the structure’s not unattractive design – is any indicator.

Today the traveller is faced by barred doors, locked toilets, a rusty phone booth, uninformative white A4 photocopied notices of indefinite closure glued to windows, and high above, a broken clock.

The nurturing of public transport usage should be a prime objective of an enlightened SIC in the 21st century with a “welcoming” (to use a word Shetland planners like to apply to their extravagant new AHS), publicly-owned Viking Bus Station playing a central role; that it is not lends support to Jonathan Wills’ letter (17th July) that “democratic decay” is on the increase with a council anxious to avoid public scrutiny.

Johann Siebert
Maywick Road,


Add Your Comment
  • Brian Cole

    • July 21st, 2015 14:21

    Margaret Thatcher said that?

    When and who reported it or is it a bit more black propaganda against the greatest prime minister of the last century.

    Perhaps you were confusing Margaret Thatcher with that great Scotchman and pretend Englishman , Tony Blair

  • clare green

    • July 21st, 2015 19:34

    Yes, I remember Margaret Thatcher saying something like this. I really believe that she would have if she could have got rid of public transport if she had her way. What a dreadful winter is in store for those who Have to use buses this winter no respite from the cold rain wind and snow! Almost certainly those who made the decision to close the bus station have cars because if the didn’t no way would they have done this and the money saved almost non existent in comparison to the damage this will cause ultimately.

  • iantinkler

    • July 21st, 2015 20:06

    Bit of a bit of a bizarre statement. must mean me when I lived in London during some of the Thatcher years. Did not have a care then, no where to park. Arthur Scargill had a chauffeur driven Jag. Maybe i should have been in a Union!!

  • iantinkler

    • July 21st, 2015 20:07

    care or car!!

  • Gordon Harmer

    • July 21st, 2015 20:07

    What Mrs Thatcher actually said was “Any man who rides a bus to work after the age of 30 can count himself a failure in life”. Not that I agree with her but it just goes to show change a few words for effect and what she said takes on a whole new meaning. Not good practice when trying to make a serious point.

    • Robert Duncan

      • July 22nd, 2015 15:55

      That is the full quote (ages often changing depending on source) but whilst it is often attributed to Margaret Thatcher, there is absolutely no evidence she actually said it. It is complete urban legend.

  • Spence Jamieson

    • July 21st, 2015 22:06

    It is ironic that the bus station gets closed when there are so many buses transporting workers across the islands.

  • Andy Holt

    • July 22nd, 2015 7:33

    Leaving aside the inconvenient truth that Mrs Thatcher probably did not utter that particular snide remark, I too mourn the passing of the waiting room and the general dilapidated state of this once important transport hub. Still, austerity, sorry financial prudence demands radical cuts, er economies in the councils spending. The fact that it is the poor, the young and the old who are the most effected by council policy in no way identifies us with those vile Tories and their cuts and austerity agenda, does it? When I hear local councillors wittering on about being for anti austerity parties nationally whilst practicing such policies locally I know for sure we are ruled by a town hall full of hypocrites.

    • Steven Jarmson

      • July 24th, 2015 10:30

      Perhaps if the Glasgow and Central Scotland government would give Shetland its housing support grant then the bus station could have been saved as we’d have a couple of million extra in the bank rather than having to cut services such as the bus station.
      Not to mention our underfunded schools, hoe much did the SIC have to find to cover that? £19M?
      A solution could, as the Scots demand, all money raised in Scotland is spent in Scotland, maybe all money raised is Shetland should be spent here too?

  • Frank Ormston

    • August 18th, 2015 14:45

    Whether or not Mrs Thatcher uttered those words or something similar, the reality is that closing the bus station badly undermines public transport in Shetland with all the social ills that this entails.

    For my own part (approaching 60 and never driven a car to work, or anywhere else for that matter) any decline in the quantity or quality of public transport provision would make it harder for me to spend my holidays in the isles, in turn detracting from my quality life and reducing the income of the self-catering lets and camping bods that I use.

    It’s a personal whinge for sure, but I’d hazard a guess I’m not the only tourist who comes to Shetland intending to travel mainly by bus and foot.

    Shetland currently has the best rural bus network I’ve encountered anywhere in Britain; please don’t allow it to unravel from its hub.


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