SDLP Spokesperson on Regional Development John Dallat MLA has expressed his support for the establishment of a joint working group with representatives from the trade union and Translink to consider service changes to public transport.
He said: “While I give a cautious welcome to this announcement by the Minister Danny Kennedy it must be made clear that the ultimate aim must be to provide a first-class transport service which meets the needs of the general public.
“Translink has been told it must find efficiency savings of £6-7 million this year which will have profound consequences on a public transport service which already has serious shortcomings and has failed to make speed at introducing an integrated transport service that meets the needs of its users particularly those without cars and living in rural areas.
“Over the last decade capital investment has been made in new trains and buses and this has resulted in an encouraging uptake in the use of public transport. However this still falls short of what is required for the future if we are to achieve the stated aims of protecting the environment and getting people out of their cars.
“The Minister has given an assurance to the Assembly’s Regional Development Committee that its members will be fully consulted on any changes to how Translink operates and I sincerely hope that he continues to be mindful of this undertaking because public transport is about much more than just Translink and the trade unions. It is about delivering a proper service to the public across all regions of the north. It is about ensuring that the ‘universal’ service is not savaged but improved upon. Imposing so-called ‘savings of £6-7 million is a false economy if it results in any diminution of that service.”