Greater Glasgow’s Public Transportation Gaffe

For three months in 1961 Scotland experienced a terrible inconvenience that completely crippled Scotland’s public transportation system and worsened their most recent industrial decline. The country’s industrial center was Greater Glasgow, which had also been a major contributor during the Industrial Revolution.

O’Keefe, the Public Transportation System Director of Greater Glasgow, came in 1960 with the goal of breathing new life into the area’s image. In 1956 London had begun to make use of the Routemaster; O’Keefe followed suit and ordered thirty of them for Scotland’s top transportation system.

A line of Routemasters in London, England

What happened during the ordering process of the Routemasters is still unknown. What is known is that Scotland ended up mistakenly purchasing thirty 1944 Rolls-Royce Wraith sedans. O’Keefe had expected to be able to provide transportation for approximately 2,100 workers but was only able to offer 240 seats once the sedans arrived.

The Greater Glasgow Public Transportation Riot of 1961 ended in the death of six women and one Rolls-Royce Wraith.

The following three months were disastrous. From February to April, employee tardiness skyrocketed all throughout Greater Glasgow which prompted widespread firings. With rising unemployment came a decrease in the industries. In late April, O’Keefe resigned and was quickly replaced. London donated a handful of Routemaster buses to help Greater Glasgow while they waited for their own to arrive.

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