EDINBURGH’S first female bus driver has died at the age of 86.
Myra Wright, from Duddingston, worked as a conductor on the Capital’s buses before training to become a driver in 1972.
Today, friends described her as “one of the most fantastic characters you could hope to meet”.
Born Myra Anderson in March 1930, she was one of five children and was brought up in Leith and Craigmillar, going to Niddrie Marischal High School.
Her first job was at the creamery in Craigmillar, packing ice cream. She married husband Alex, whom she had met at a dance hall in the Jewel, in 1950 and their son Angus was born the following year.
Mrs Wright started her career on the buses in 1962 as a conductor with Edinburgh Corporation, which later become Lothian Regional Transport and then Lothian Buses.
She soon became a favourite with passengers, including fishermen from Leith who would sometimes give her some catch on a Friday.
Speaking to the Evening News a few years ago, Mrs Wright recalled how her job involved walking round the bus with her heavy cash box, taking people’s fares. A lot of her passengers worked at city factories, and she recognised many faces every day.
The old-fashioned double-decker buses had open back doors, and she remembered watching latecomers running to catch a bus.
“People used to run for the bus and then jump on the back. I’d always try and tell them not to! I did see a few fall off that way and fall flat on their faces, but they’d just get bruises.”
Then in 1972, she and four of her colleagues were asked if they wanted to train as drivers. She already had a driving licence and jumped at the opportunity. She was sent to the company’s own driving school and in 1972 became Edinburgh’s first female bus driver.
She said: “We went to driving school – it was really good fun. The buses had old crashspeed gear-boxes – there was no power steering – and it could be tough, but we managed.
“I did fail the first exam, because of my reversing, but I passed second time around.
“At first some of the passengers were surprised when they saw me driving the bus.”
She stayed in the job for 20 years.
But in 2008, Mrs Wright had some stern words for her former employers after they cut back the service she used to get to her sequence dancing classes. She told the News: “The buses are not busy at night and there is no point in running empty buses, but even if they put a bus on every two hours you would know there was one coming and people would use it.”
Today DJ Johnston-Smith, former landlord of the Sheep Heid Inn in Duddingston, was among those paying tribute.
He said: “She lived just opposite the Sheep Heid and I met her very soon after I went there in 2004. Her husband was a Second World War veteran in Malta.
“Everyone knew Myra. She was one of the most fantastic characters you could hope to meet.
“Sadly her husband died a few years ago and she went into a home soon after that.”