It’s bright, it’s loud, it’s the Christmas Bus!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Newcastle as the first Christmas Bus hits the streets!
Newcastle’s decorated Christmas bus has begun operating for another festive season, starting its 19th year rumbling around the city’s streets spreading Christmas cheer to all who see and ride on it.
The Christmas bus is the brainchild of 57-year-old Margy Pannell, a Newcastle bus driver who each year selects one bus to decorate.
“I just wanted to do something nice. They weren’t looking forward to Christmas, and I knew what that was like — I’d lost my husband just before Christmas in 1981, so I understood how they felt and I thought I would just cheer them up a little bit,” Margy said.
“From then on, it’s just got bigger, and bigger, and bigger.”
On the outside, tinsel borders the windscreen wipers and headlights, while a wreath adorns the centre panel.
Tinsel and lights are intertwined in the hub caps, while inside, the bus is awash with festive colour.
Images of Santa are stuck to the windows, tinsel dangles from the roof, and Christmas-patterned fabric covers the seats.
The bus operates on regular routes around the city, including school journeys, and it amazes passengers.
“The reactions are all really positive. I think most people know what it is by now, because it’s been going for so long,” Margy said.
“When people see it, it’s really exciting.
At the Hamilton Bus Depot, drivers vie for shifts driving the Christmas-themed vehicle.
“When I first started, they wouldn’t be caught dead driving it, but now they fight over who has got the most shifts, and who has got the better trips on those shifts,” Margy said.
“It’s nice to see the new drivers that haven’t driven it before being a bit tentative about taking it out the first time, and then they come back saying, ‘I want to do it again!
“This is Christmas for me. I love it.”
Will any other depots unseat Hamilton for the honour of having the best Christmas bus?