Fleet of new school buses hits the road for Northern Ireland schoolchildren
The wheels of 116 new school buses are set to go round and round this month as part of a £13million investment in education in Northern Ireland.
At Lagan College today Education Minister Peter Weir launched the fleet of high specification buses, which will transport 3,500 pupils to mainstream and special schools across the Province.
This new fleet is to be followed by a further £18million investment in school transport over the coming year.
Mr Weir said: “The safety of our young people is my top priority and through this investment of £31m, by the end of the year, parents can be assured that their children have safe and reliable transport for their home to school journey.
“Home to School transport plays an integral part in young people’s educational experience and by investing in new buses and improving the experience of children travelling to school in modern, comfortable buses we are helping to provide children with the best opportunity to reach their full potential. With greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions these buses will also be better for the environment.”
The Education Authority (EA) runs one of the largest bus fleets in NI with over 800 buses helping to transport 86,000 pupils to school and college each day.
Eve Bremner, Assistant Director of Transport at the EA said that after five years they aimed to have replaced 50% of school buses.
Of the new buses she said: “They demonstrate our commitment to continue to provide a high quality, safe and efficient service to the 86,000 pupils we transport every day. We’re looking forward to welcoming pupils on board.”
The new buses have features including air-conditioning, USB charging points (limited trial), internal and external CCTV, and improved fuel efficiency along with reduced emissions.
Meanwhile with passenger levels steadily growing again on public transport, new research commissioned by Translink surveying people across NI including public transport users and non-users reveals that 79% anticipate they will return to their normal place of work by the end of 2021.
Half of those surveyed said they would be happy to use public transport immediately once restrictions lift.
Translink continued to operate services throughout the pandemic and quickly introduced a wide range of safety measures to keep customers and staff safe.
As restrictions now ease the public has identified several measures that will be key to encouraging them on-board services, such as wearing face masks (94%), enhanced cleaning (95%) and sanitisers at stations (95%).
With four in five people believing Translink kept passengers safe throughout the pandemic, chief executive Chris Conway reassured customers safety remains the organisation’s top priority.
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