de Faoite urges Minister to fund nightbus services

Séamas de Faoite Public Transport Nightbus

SDLP Belfast City Council Group Leader councillor Séamas de Faoite has urged Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd to fund nightbuses for the city.

Councillor de Faoite wrote to the Minister asking him to provide the necessary £150,000 funding to run late night services on Belfast’s Metro Bus routes at the weekend.

Minister O’Dowd responded that “the provision and operation of services is an operational matter for Translink”.

Councillor de Faoite said:

“The SDLP has long been campaigning for year-round nightbus services for Belfast and despite acknowledgement of the many benefits this would have, including from the Minister himself, we are still no further on, outside of a limited Christmas service which itself has come under repeated threat in recent years.

“Regular nightbus services would have many benefits for the local economy, allowing people to spend more time in our shops, restaurants and bars which have endured a difficult few years. It would also have help people to get home safely after socialising or working a late shift, something that has become a growing issue with the decline in the number of taxi drivers operating in the city. The reality is that more and more people are choosing to simply stay at home due to the lack of transport options.

“Translink have identified that running nightbus services on weekends would cost around £150,000 yearly, a sum that would be repaid many times over when considering the additional spending and other issues that these services would help to address. Rather than constructively respond to the proposal Minister O’Dowd has dismissed it out of hand as a matter for Translink. This simply isn’t good enough, Translink’s budget has been repeatedly stretched in recent years and I would implore the Minister to find the funding within his department to provide these services. We cannot continue to discuss the problems around our nighttime economy and public transport options then refusing opportunities to address it when they arise.”

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