The tide is said to be turning on Banbridge’s decades-long battle for a bus station, after a local delegation descended upon Stormont to highlight the issue with politicians there.
A number of local representatives spoke to members of the Regional Development Committee to plead the case for the town.
It has emerged Translink lodged a planning application for the station in July this year, just two months after the body’s Chief Executive Catherine Mason told Banbridge District Council she couldn’t see funding becoming available for the project in the short-term.
Ms Mason also enraged councillors at the time by insisting risk assessments carried out by the PSNI and Roads Service had found the current site, outside the Downshire Arms Hotel in Newry Street, not to be a health and safety hazard.
Now, it is understood a financial appraisal is also being carried out for the scheme, which it is hoped would see a bus station built at what is currently Kenlis Street car park.
A delegation including local councillors and Stormont Assembly members said they got the “full support” of the DRD Committee last week in their bid to boost the campaign for a station.
Banbridge Regeneration Company member John Dobson said that while he is hopeful of a positive outcome on what has been a long-running issue, he would challenge Translink to finally deliver on the project.
“In my view Catherine Mason is rather too good at telling people why things can’t be done,” he said.
“I believe that public service is about telling people how things can be done and how a positive outcome can be achieved.”
Mr Dobson said the need for a station is plain to see.
“We have always believed that anyone can see the conditions are so bad in Banbridge that they need to be improved.
““If the Chief Executive of a body dedicated to providing transport considers there is no need for a bus station in Banbridge I find that a very strange view.
“It’s beside four lanes and a roundabout. It’s the furthest point from a pedestrian crossing in Newry Street, it’s the busiest point of Newry Street with a narrow footpath and mixes taxi traffic with local traffic.
“It’s fortunate there hasn’t been a reported accident.”
Mr Dobson said the he is delighted to see the situation moving forward.
“We are happy that the Minister intends if it is possible to deliver a bus station, We are happy that the committee will be 100 per cent supportive of that,” he said.
“The members of the committee who are not familiar were amazed to learn of the conditions we have to operate within.
“I would be hopeful that all efforts would be made that we don’t have to tolerate another winter after this one.”
When asked for further detail on the plans, a Translink spokeswoman said, “We can confirm that a business case to construct a new bus station in Banbridge has been submitted to the Department for Regional Development.”