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Tuesday, 26 February, 2002, 12:21 GMT
NI transport services under fire
Northern Ireland Railways train
Survey revealed worst results in eight years
Passenger satisfaction with bus and rail services in Northern Ireland is at an all time low, according to an independent survey.

The survey by the General Consumer Council, published on Tuesday, revealed the worst results since the surveys began eight years ago.

The results measure the performance of transport company Translink against its charter.


Passengers have clearly stated that they are fed up

Joan Whiteside
Consumer Council

They show the overall perception of public transport is down because of lower scores on punctuality and passenger comfort.

The council said the results would have been even worse had it not been for an increase in the value for money rating brought about by free transport for senior citizens.

Joan Whiteside of the General Consumer Council said it was deeply disturbed by the results.

"Passengers have clearly stated that they are fed up. It is now time for Translink and our politicians to sit up and take note," she said.

Mrs Whiteside said the council was not laying the blame completely at the door of Translink.

"As the passengers' champion, the Consumer Council is well aware that Translink is stuck with elderly buses, trains at the end of their useful life and at the same time has to cope with unprovoked attacks on their staff."

The Consumer Council wants to see:

  • Assembly approval and funds for new buses
  • Bus priority measures which focus on key bottlenecks
  • Measures to improve rail services until new trains start arriving in two years time
  • Concerted action by elected representatives, community leaders and the police to eradicate attacks on staff and other criminal damage

    Ciaran Rogan, Translink's head of marketing, said he accepted the survey's findings but stressed punctuality levels were still "significantly better" than the rest of the United Kingdom.

    "Bus passengers are voicing concerns and frustrations at poor punctuality resulting from increased congestion in the city and an ageing bus fleet," he said.

    He said attacks on buses, drivers and passengers in north and west Belfast had also had an adverse effect while a new ticketing system had led to minor delays.

    Mr Rogan added: "Passengers have rated value for money highly.

    "The introduction of free travel for senior citizens has impacted greatly across the three operating companies and travel has greatly increased amongst this age group."

    Earlier this month, it was announced that a Spanish company had been awarded an 80m contract to provide 23 new trains for the Northern Ireland network.

    The decision to buy new trains was part of a revitalisation of the rail system, according Translink.

    It was the largest ever single investment in railway rolling stock in Northern Ireland.

    The contract followed the recommendations of the Railways Taskforce in late 2000.

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    Ciaran Rogan of Translink
    "We've got 70 or 80 million passengers each year and we have to look after them"
    See also:

    10 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
    70m plan to replace all NI trains
    25 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
    Future of railways under spotlight
    02 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
    Fears over 'poor' transport system
    19 Feb 02 | Northern Ireland
    New trains to boost rail network
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