So Translink seeks consultation from the public concerning the effects of cutting back both rail and bus services so as to save money in this time of austerity.
The company has been on the wrong track for years now and has wasted money unnecessarily.
The excuse for urgent consultation now is that there are to be millions of pounds less available next year in the form of government subsidies.
But the management have been squandering millions with an inefficient timetable strategy.
The fact is, there are too many bus and train services; and two particular examples illustrate the misuse of precious resources to date.
If you were to ask anyone to guess how many train movements there are between Bangor (Co. Down) and Belfast and/or Portadown on any day Monday to Friday, they would most likely answer: two or three dozen.
There are actually fifty trains on the move daily from Bangor plus another fifty in the opposite direction!
Given the increasing use of the rail network, apart from the obvious rush hour traffic with full carriage occupancy, during the rest of the day the trains run with comparatively low passenger numbers amounting to insufficient ‘bums on seats’.
So the simple solution, in order to save money, is to run fewer trains with more passengers. This would mean savings in manpower, fuel and maintenance costs through more enlightened use of rolling stock and scheduling.
The trains in Northern Ireland are clean and comfortable, and they provide an enjoyable travel experience. However, the same high standard of comfort in buses and coaches on the roads is, by contrast, totally lacking.
Decades ago, the design of coaches and buses, and consequently the comfort afforded by them, was far superior, whilst the vehicles today are noticeably more noisy and uncomfortable.
Again, I submit that the services in many cases are too frequent for the running of an economical bus service; and fares, as a result, like those on the trains, are higher than is necessary.
For example, the bus service from Bangor to Newtownards: why should there be a bus in each direction every half-hour? Surely every forty-five minutes, or even hourly, would make for more effective and economical running of such a route? A too frequent service is a luxury we simply cannot afford at any time. Both train and bus services must be run more effectively and efficiently; and such objectives should be operating, not just in a time of austerity, but at all times.
Neil C. Oliver, LL B