Residents have thanked a caring driver for her service following the axing of a vital Barrhead bus service.

For the past two years, Marie O’Connell has been behind the wheel of McGill’s 52 circular which made 16 stops between Stewart Street, Main Street, Tesco and Barrhead Station.

Rena McGuire BEM, the founder of Dunterlie Foodshare, who was one of the most passionate voices in the campaign to save the route, praised Marie for going above and beyond in her role.

She told the Barrhead News: “Thanks to Marie and all the good drivers we had over the years.

“We will certainly see Marie on other services, but sadly not the number 52.

“Marie was a great driver plus she looked after everybody. If she knew somebody was missing for day or two, she would be asking somebody about them or asking somebody to find out. She kept an eye out for people.

“She was a great community person and it’s a shame because she loved the route.”

The route, which ran for more than 20 years was a “lifeline” for residents, particularly pensioners and disabled people whose freedom depended on it.

It was lost as bus operator McGill’s made several changes to services in the area.

Rena’s sentiments were echoed by other residents on social media.

One post read: “It will be so missed by so many people who have used it over the years and Marie will be all so missed.”

Another said: “Marie will be missed by everyone. What a woman.”

As well as well wishes, in a testament to the community’s appreciation, Marie was also inundated with gifts from grateful locals.

Following the bus’ last journey on Saturday, April 29 she asked Rena to share a message on social media with other passengers.

It read: “I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of all the scheme machine passengers.

“Thank you all so much for the amazing farewell gifts and wedding presents.

“It has been an honour working with you all and to be welcomed in as part of the community.

“I’m really going to miss you all so much. You have made the past two years a joy.

“Hopefully I will see you at some point on my travels and if you hear a toot toot, give me a wave.”

Rena says the community has been left isolated and in “dire straits” by the end of the service.

“It’s four buses to get to the post office for any elderly person who wants to go,” she explained.

“People with disabilities are struggling. People are going to struggle to get to foodshare too and if they get here, are they going to be able to get back with two bags of shopping?”

The community activist is now urging as many people as possible to back a petition launched by West Scotland MSP Neil Bibby, which calls on the Scottish Government to reverse cuts to bus services.

“The more people who sign, the more chance we’ve got,” she explained.

Previously explaining the end of the service, McGill’s said the pandemic had resulted in changes to how and when people travel and, more recently, like the wider economy and population at large it has been hit by inflationary pressures, such as fuel, energy, materials and wage costs.

Given the increased costs, this meant they needed “to make some changes to routes and timetables - both to reflect current demand, and to ensure the future viability” of their networks.

To sign the petition visit