Concern over plans to axe town’s buses

Fundraisers at Bow Street
Fundraisers at Bow Street

Concern has been expressed over an announcement that bus services in a number of towns across Northern Ireland including Banbridge, could be axed if draft budget cuts are agreed.

Under the proposals Armagh city and 13 towns could lose their urban bus services completely next year, while another seven could see their services cut back.

Criticising the proposals, Councillor Glenn Barr said if the budget cuts are allowed to go ahead it will be unjust to a number of towns including Banbridge and have an adverse impact on those who rely on the service.

“If we want to see Public Transport grow in both bus and rail, Stormont needs to invest in it and the latest draft budget supported by both the DUP and SF does the opposite” said Councillor Barr.

“It will shrink bus services and if they proceed with their proposals, it will unfairly penalise communities like Banbridge.

“Public transport needs investment and the finance minister Simon Hamilton needs to provide this level of investment. I know that Danny Kennedy will be lobbying the finance minister to reverse his funding proposals.”

In a statement, bus and rail operator Translink said the proposed measures were due to the fact it was facing a potential cut in government funding of £15m.

A Translink spokesperson said: “As a consequence of the potential reduction in funding of £15 million (20%) Translink was requested to consider the measures that would need to be taken and the associated impacts.

“In addition to delivering challenging internal efficiency savings the draft consultation document highlights that town bus services are under threat as a result of the proposed reduction in funding. The withdrawal or reduction of services would focus on routes which are less used.”

Translink was anxious to stress that the cuts to bus and rail services are as yet still draft proposals.

“No decisions have been taken and we note that the budget is still draft and at the consultation stage. We await the outcome of the current consultation process and the final implications on funding before any decisions are taken.”