'It was lovely in a time of such separation' - Three Lothian bus stops take to Twitter to spread joy and boost morale

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Three suburban bus stops in Edinburgh and East Lothian – Drum Brae, Greenbank and Prestonpans – have their own Twitter accounts.

The stops interact with each other and other novelty accounts, and have lifted peoples’ spirits during the pandemic and beyond.

From daily “banana messages” to the #BusStopAdvent that took place in December 2020, the bus stop accounts are a welcome reprieve from the doom and gloom of everyday pandemic life.

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A spokesperson from the Greenbank account said: “We three Scottish bus stops along with a German bus stop are in touch regularly and we all share a love of cheering people up. I like to spread good news and helpful information, as well as maybe a little inspiration!”

The three stops are located at Clermiston Crescent (eastbound towards city), Littlejohn Wynd (eastbound towards city) and Northfield House in Prestonpans (westbound towards Edinburgh).

The Prestonpans bus stop was the first of the three to venture into the Twittersphere in December 2013 after decorating the shelter for Christmas. The anonymous owner of the account continues to regularly clean and decorate the shelter, with the artist Lynn Fraser painting it for Christmas 2020.

The Greenbank Bus Stop was also decorated for Christmas, and all three stops took part in #BusStopAdvent where small gifts were left daily in the bus shelters. Those who found a gift were encouraged to share on Twitter using the hashtag.

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‘Greenbanksy’, the anonymous person behind the Greenbank Bus Stop account, said: “Someone sent a message to say she loved receiving a little Christmas present when she’d been at the stop. She took it home and shared it with her granddaughters. Some bubbles and Christmas napkins made her day, and her message made mine.

Map showing two of the bus stops. Pic: googleMap showing two of the bus stops. Pic: google
Map showing two of the bus stops. Pic: google

“It was lovely in a time of such separation.”

All three bus stop accounts have been around since long before the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they didn’t post at all during the first lockdown. “It didn’t feel right, everybody was scared and it didn’t feel it was the time to be present,” added Greenbanksy.

Greenbanksy tweets an early morning message every weekday written on a banana – and at one point this was to help people mark off the days during the winter lockdown.

The stops love engaging with local residents, other novelty accounts and each other, and it is clear that local people value the role the accounts and bus stops play in the community.

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The person behind the Prestonpans account said: “Someone left baby spider plants last year and this year, a different person who had taken one of the original babies and propagated it, left more with an explanation about it.”

The Drum Brae account added: “Local people definitely engage and often post photos of the bus stop, as well as messages. I think they like the fact it's something local they can identify with.”

The Edinburgh bus stops have a German bus stop friend, @WillichB, who visits Scotland every year and exchanges secret gifts with them. The anonymous users behind the accounts have not yet met in person, but have plans to do so soon.

Greenbanksy said: “I get some lonely or grief stricken people engaging here who just enjoy a little bit of daily connection

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The virtual bus stop can be very similar to sharing a chat at the real bus stop.”

You can follow the bus stops on Twitter at @PPansBusShelter, @DrumBraeBusStop and @thegreenbanksy.

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