Some lesser used bus routes are a vital service to their users

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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On page three of this newspaper today, a man aged 90 has spoken of how public transport is a “a lifeline” for him.

Rowland Savage, from Lisburn, uses his local Ulsterbus to get to Hollybrook Nurseries or to the cemetery to the graves of his wife and daughter.

That Mr Savage is speaking as part of an exhibition during Bus + Train Week 2019 might perhaps seem somewhat convenient for Translink, by telling the world how important their services are, when other users might have criticisms that do not get such an airing.

But it is undeniably the case that a significant minority of the population would be lost without public transport services that at times seem under-used.

Consider the Bangor to Belfast bus for example. While tens of thousands of people use the parallel main road in their car, or the train route, the bus weaves its way through pockets of housing on the Old Holywood Road.

Sometimes half a dozen people or fewer are on that bus at quieter times. Yet without such services, a tier of people would be stranded.

There is much good news on public transport: trains are so heavily used that passengers want more park and ride facilities. Likewise with some bus routes. The Glider in east-west Belfast is so popular it needs more capacity.

But it is easy to overlook the importance of less heavily used routes, that are harder to justify financially yet vital.