‘One-in-20’ Glider riders are dodging their bus fares

Translink has estimated that the equivalent of one-in-20 passengers’ fares are being dodged on its new Glider fleet.

A Glider bus
A Glider bus

The Glider buses – with their distinctive bendy middle and low-lying tram-like design – were introduced in Belfast in autumn 2018.

They are meant to provide fast public transport links between the city centre and east and west Belfast, which are poorly-served by trains.

Now an Assembly question from East Belfast MLA Robin Newton has uncovered a number of facts about its first year of operation.

Firstly, the Glider exceeded its passenger carrying target by two million; carrying 9.6m passengers as compared to the projected 7.6m.

This meant that running costs were 12% higher than expected – but also that fare revenues were 18.5% higher too.

In addition, the response to Mr Newton said: “The level of detected fare evasion on Glider services in 2019/20 was approximately 5%.”

When contacted by the News Letter, Translink said: “The rate of fare compliance was in excess of 95%, which is within acceptable parameters for an open boarding transport system.

“We do not have a precise figure for potential revenue foregone.”

However, Mr Newton said that “actual fare evasion is – in all probability – much higher” than 5%.

In addition, during 2019/20, vandalism of the buses cost £25,000, and vandalism of the ticket machines at Glider stops cost £28,000 – figures which Mr Newton described as being “shameful”.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Alistair Bushe