LENADOON man Dessie McLarnon joined Translink two and a half years ago and has been providing its Glider service throughout the Coronavirus lockdown period.

With restrictions around travel easing, Dessie says the Glider service which connects west to east Belfast is starting to get busier again “and like everything, you get used to the new routine and new procedures”.

“I’ve been working for the company just over two years now,” said Dessie. “Translink are a fantastic company to work for in terms of providing security and stability.

"I started with the Metro service in January 2018 and moved over to Glider in September of that year and have been there ever since. Becoming a driver for the Glider service gave me an opportunity to do something that hadn’t been done before. I fell in love with it, fell in love with the job. It’s the job I love the most and have been most content in.

"There is constant ongoing training and Translink offer a lot of support, which is a big thing. Our company is all about safety, thorough safety checks are carried out every morning before any vehicle is on road.”

But things have changed since the Covid storm hit. “Work is noticeably different with all the new measures put in place by Translink such as screens, hand sanitiser and reduced numbers of people allowed in the depot.

LOVE AFFAIR: The Glider has transformed transport in west-east Belfast and changed Dessie's life
LOVE AFFAIR: The Glider has transformed transport in west-east Belfast and changed Dessie's life

"The strangest thing for me has been the low number of passengers. From day one, Glider has been a really busy service and as a driver that has taken a lot of getting used to. Thankfully, the service is starting to get busier again as restrictions are easing.”

Dessie says he takes his role as an essential worker “very seriously”.

“It would be hard not to when you saw the doctors and nurses travelling on our services everyday. They needed us. There was a pressure that came with that but as time went on my confidence built and I knew what I needed to do.”

With face masks or face coverings now mandatory on public transport, Dessie said that both drivers and passengers are working to protect the public.

“We are working hard to provide as safe a travelling environment as possible for our passengers, if we all work together we can protect other passengers and drivers. The service is there for all walks of life, wear your face masks, keep your social distance and respect the guidelines for everyone’s safety. We have a shared responsibility to protect each other.”

As part of Translink’s Let’s Go Safely Together Campaign, Translink with the support of community groups and famous faces are asking young people not to travel in large groups, to wear a face-covering and to keep social distancing, particularly at bus and train stops and on-board public transport.