'It melted my heart' - Children in Edinburgh show support to city’s bus drivers after surge in attacks

Children in Edinburgh have been showing their support to the city’s bus drivers in the wake of recent attacks.

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 7:00 am

Lothian Buses was forced to suspend evening services on Wednesday in response to the surge in antisocial behaviour, which included eight buses serving the Royal Infirmary being targeted by vandals throwing large stones earlier in the week.

One city taxi driver, Don Pujdak, said he was “incredibly proud” of his two kids - five-year-old Alex and two-year-old Eva - for creating a poster on Friday with a message of thanks to all bus drivers for the vital work they undertake.

The 37-year-old, who has pinned the colourful poster to the back of his taxi, said his children came up with the idea after he told them about a “touching video” on the bus company’s social media in which a driver speaks about glass shattering into his eye during a recent attack and its psychological impact.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mr Pujdak, who lives in Warriston Drive and works for Central Taxis, said: “We are living in this world where it is so easy to do something bad, but difficult to do something nice, so me and the children sat down and decided to send a nice message after school. My kids love to draw. My son is learning to write, so for him it’s a nice practical thing to do.

“Like every father, I would say I’m incredibly proud of my children and the whole idea. They came to me and said, ‘we need to do something nice for these bus drivers.’ It melted my heart.”

Mr Pujdak believes strong policing is important to tackling this antisocial behaviour and suggests considering a community service punishment such as cleaning streets.

Another parent also shared an image of her daughter on Friday dressed up in her father’s bus uniform for her school’s ‘dress like a superhero’ day.

Little Eva Pujdak helps make the poster for her father's taxi, while one yongster dressed like her dad for 'dress like a superhero day' at school in support of Lothian bus drivers. Pictures: Don Pujdak/ Stephanie Lynch

Lothian bus services resumed on Thursday evening but will be kept under review, with buses being withdrawn from any areas as soon as there is an incident there.

Chief Inspector Sarah Taylor, local area commander for north west Edinburgh, said previously that officers have been patrolling on buses, in vehicles, and on foot in areas affected and, by Tuesday, had identified and charged 18 young people.

A 15-year-old boy was later charged in connection with the vandalism of buses and a taxi in the south east of the city on Monday.

On Friday, police said two youths were charged in Dalkeith in connection with targeting Lothian Buses.

The poster on the back window of Don's taxi.

Other recent incidents have included a bus driver being injured in Niddrie when the front window was smashed.

On Tuesday, one Lothian employee told the Edinburgh Evening News that drivers are “genuinely scared” about driving at night just now as the attacks are happening on “almost a nightly basis.”

Lothian Labour MSP, Sarah Boyack, also asked an urgent question in parliament on Thursday asking what their response will be to Lothian’s suspension of evening services.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson said he “deplores” the attacks which have resulted in two bus drivers suffering injuries and requiring hospital attention.

Alex and Eva Pujdak and their father, Don, standing by his taxi. Pic: Don Pujdak

He described attacks on key workers as “totally unacceptable” and called on communities to work with police to help them tackle the antisocial behaviour.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription at https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/subscriptions.