Concerns voiced over new bus timetable

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A Moira woman has told of her concern that a peak-time evening bus she has taken ‘on a daily basis for years’ is set to end next month ‘without customers being informed.’

Fiona McKay, who has travelled to and from work in Lisburn on the No 51 bus ‘for longer than I care to remember.’ said she gets the 5.50pm bus after finishing work at 5.30pm.

In recent weeks Translink announced details of planned bus and rail service changes which are part of their overall plans to reduce costs after the significant reduction in public funding in 2015/16.

Mrs McKay said: “Just by accident I went on to their website to see what time I could get home from work as I was doing a different shift. I saw there was a new timetable from September 1 and then checked to see what changes there would be to my bus route.

“But I could not find my bus. I kept on thinking to myself this is not happening, but from September 1 if I want to come home from work, given that I work to 5.30pm, the next bus I can get is at 6.35pm. There is another service at 5.10pm, which is no use.”

The mother-of-two claimed that she would be ‘getting home to Moira at around 7pm at the earliest.’

“I fully understand them having to cut costs and I can get a train, but to do so I will have a mile and a half to walk up a pitch-black road in the winter time,” she said. “The same route would be okay on summer nights.

“I understand if they were going on summer figures for the decision, but the vast majority of the year it is fairly full with the schoolkids coming home late from rugby practice.

“At that time there would be 12 to 15 school kids as well as the normal customers.

“I mentioned to a few women who get the bus regularly with me about how the service is being stopped and they were shocked. No one had been told.”

A spokesperson for Translink said: “Following the consultation with passengers earlier this year we have worked hard to protect the geographic coverage of the network. There are some frequency reductions to a number of services and some services have been retimed.

“From September 1 the Ulsterbus 51 will operate evening services from Lisburn to Moira at 17.10 and 18.35. Alternatively, NI Railways will be operating services from Lisburn to Moira at 17.32, 17.52 and 18.12.

“We would encourage passengers to check the new times of their services. New timetables are currently available online.”