A bus driver has lashed out at “selfish” parking at the Sumburgh Airport – saying that bus drivers are being forced to carry out dangerous manoeuvres because of blocked access.
Weisdale man Robbie Leask, who drives the number six bus to Sumburgh, said poor parking had become a persistent problem during school holidays with travellers who are unable to find a designated spot simply leaving their cars on the road.
In the first week of the October holidays the car park became so congested that buses were unable to follow their normal path through the airport.
Instead the drivers were forced to undertake dangerous reversing manoeuvres in the vicinity of pedestrians in order to exit the airport concourse after dropping off or picking up passengers from the bus stop.
Mr Leask said: “When the cars are parked like this we have to reverse back into the short stay car park which is a bit tight sometimes.”
He said that the situation was “very, very dangerous from a bus driver’s point of view”, in particular with “excited bairns running about” before their holidays.
Mr Leask’s comments come a week after a report in this newspaper detailed how drivers were regularly using the Lerwick bus station as a car park when picking up takeaways from nearby eateries.
On that occasion bus driver Graham Longstaff said Shetland’s driving standards were the worst he had “ever encountered” and again this week Mr Leask has criticised the quality of driving in the isles.
He said: “Them that’s parked there are so selfish. If that’s their parking how’s their driving?”
Mr Leask labelled the Sumburgh Airport car park “not fit for purpose” and said Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) should review the situation and look for solutions.
Meanwhile, Peter Leask, of the bus firm John Leask & Son, said that he had contacted Hial to alert them to the situation and had received an emailed response saying that they were aware of the problem.
Although he was aware that the congestion had now eased he described the situation last week as “a complete farce quite honestly”.
Peter Leask also said that he knew of at least one case where someone had got off the plane only to find that their car was blocked in, forcing them to find alternative transport home.
A statement, sent out by Hial’s public relations firm 3×1 and attributed simply to a “Hial spokesperson”, read: “Due to an increased number of passengers over the October holiday period, the car park at Sumburgh Airport did reach full capacity on a number of occasions. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused during that period.
“The airport team did issue a number of requests for drivers to be responsible when parking and, where possible, to consider car sharing or using the drop-off area.
“Parking at the airport is monitored closely throughout the year and we will be reviewing the position, and the steps taken last week to improve the situation, to see if there are any further improvements we can make ahead of the peak holiday periods.”