Hospital bus routes among those earmarked for possible axe

Bus services to hospitals such as Altnagelvin in Londonderry are under review
Bus services to hospitals such as Altnagelvin in Londonderry are under review
  • Full list of routes at bottom of article
  • Fears that rural communities will be ‘isolated’
  • Translink under fire over short deadline for public to respond

A number of bus routes to and from hospitals could face the axe under plans published by Translink.

Thirty-seven Ulsterbus services are listed as being under review, with the public being invited to have their say on their future.

Some serve hospitals including Altnagelvin in Londonderry and Antrim Area.

One trade unionist representing transport staff said cutting such services could prove “devastating” for many rural areas – a view shared by the DUP chairman of Stormont’s transport committee, Trevor Clarke.

In addition, Translink also came under fire for the “unacceptable” deadline it had imposed on the consultation, amounting to just 19 days (see below).

Mr Clarke said while some routes on the list may serve only low numbers of passengers, “Translink have to take the rough with the smooth.”

Asked if he had particular concerns about any routes, he said: “I have cause for concern, full stop... concern that we’re going to leave people in rural and other areas isolated.”

He said that while roughly £3m had been cut out of the budget for the Department for Regional Development (which is responsible for transport), Translink was predicting an additional £4m in revenue from fare rises this year.

He expects the matter to come before the committee next week.

Davy McMurray, regional transport organiser for the Unite union, said routes serving Bangor and Daisy Hill hospitals may also be at risk.

“The worry is that people won’t be able to get to hospitals on public transport,” he told the News Letter.

“Family members will have to take time off work to run them to hospital, or they’ll have to take a taxi...

“It’ll be devastating. It’ll cut off town centres, harm small businesses. It will leave large swathes of Northern Ireland cut off.”

Translink said: “Some services have been experiencing low passenger numbers on a regular basis.

“No decisions have been made at this stage as the consultation will seek to identify what is most important to our customers to help us best design the bus network to operate within allocated resources while protecting those routes most essential to customers.”

The deadline for the consultation has been set as April 3.

The Consumer Council called this “unaccepptable,” adding that it was”questioning how meaningful this process will be.”

Last night, Translink said it may extend this deadline.

Informations days will be held in each service area, and the public can make their views known via questionaires which are available online and at stations.

For more information, call (028)90 666 630 or visit Translink’s website.

THE LIST FROM TRANSLINK, BY REGION:

ARMAGH:

40D: Newry - Armagh

371: Armagh Town Service

ANTRIM:

106: Belfast, Europa/GVS - Crumlin Main Street

BANGOR:

3C: Bangor - Donaghadee - Ballywalter

303A: Donaghadee - Bloomfield - Bangor Loop

CARRICK:

365: Carrickfergus Town Service

168B: Carrickfergus - Antrim Area Hospital - Antrim Carrickfergus Train Station

CRAIGAVON:

67B: Portadown, High Street - Tullyroan Corner

COLERAINE:

140: Portrush - Portstewart - Coleraine Service

331: Ballycastle Town Service

COOKSTOWN:

390: Cookstown Town Service

DOWNPATRICK:

15A: Crossgar - Downpatrick

315: Downpatrick Town Service

ENNISKILLEN:

95C: Roslea - Enniskillen, Buscentre

294: Enniskillen - Altnagelvin Hospital

397: Enniskillen Town Service

LIMAVADY:

336: Limavady Town Service

LISBURN:

105: Dundrod -Lisburn

25B: Purdysburn - Taylor Court - Lisburn

MAGHERFELT:

403: Omagh, Bus Station - Magherafelt, Buscentre (Sperrin Rambler)

389: Magherafelt Town Service

NEWCASTLE:

318: Ballynahinch Town Service

407A/B: Kilkeel Rambler Europa Buscentre

337: Kilkeel Town Service

320:Newcastle Town Service

NEWRY:

463: Tandragee - Acton Village - Newry Newry Buscentre

NEWTOWNARDS:

6D: Newtownards-Bangor Bloomfield Shopping Centre

26C: Newtownards - Sprucefield Shopping Centre

308: Newtownards Town Service, Castlebawn Tesco Newtownards Bus Station

311: Comber Town Service Newtownards Bus Station

NEWTOWNABBEY:

367: Newtownabbey Town Service

OMAGH:

92C: Omagh, Buscentre - Omagh, An Creagan Centre

403: Omagh, Bus Station - Magherafelt, Buscentre (Sperrin Rambler)

94A: Enniskillen - Omagh Omagh Bus Station

294: Enniskillen - Omagh - Altnagelvin Hospital Omagh Bus Station

384: Omagh Town Service Omagh Bus Station

STRABANE:

398: Strabane Town Service Strabane Buscentre