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BBC NI's Wendy Austin talks to:
Maeve Bell from the General Consumer Council & Ciaran Rogan of Translink
 real 28k

Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 16:24 GMT
Public transport in 'a mess'
Old rolling stock on NI Railways
Old rolling stock gets most criticism in survey
A survey by a watchdog group suggests that passenger satisfaction with Northern Ireland's public transport services is at an all-time low.

Research commissioned by the General Consumer Council indicates a growing level of passenger dissatisfaction with bus and rail services.

Director of the Consumer Council, Maeve Bell, said the biggest problem was a lack of funding for improvements in the railway system, which was almost at "crisis point".

She said the council was "appalled" at the growing levels of dissatisfaction among passengers.

"It is the daily grind of late services, lack of information and poor standards of cleanliness which have caused the rise in dissatisfaction across the board," she says.

She pointed to a breakdown on the Belfast to Bangor line in November as an example of the poor service available to passengers.

"The Consumer Council wants to see major investment by government in trains and buses and continuing support for running the services.



It is the daily grind of late services, lack of information and poor standards of cleanliness which have caused the rise in dissatisfaction across the board.

Maeve Bell
"We need new trains, upgraded track and state of the art safety systems.

"Already two of the older trains have been withdrawn because of corrosion problems. This has led to overcrowding conditions and, understandably, even more passenger annoyance."

Complaints

The survey indicated falling ratings for the provinces three main services - Citybus, Ulsterbus and Northern Ireland Railways.

In Autumn 1999, Citybus, Belfast's bus service, scored its worse ever score, an approval rating of 65 out of a possible 100. Its best score was 74 in 1996.

Ulsterbus scored its worse rating of 73 last autumn, compared with its 1995-6 rating of 79.

Train users indicated the greatest fall in satisfaction ratings which reached an all-time low rating of 63 last year.

However, the head of marketing with bus and rail company, Translink, defended the company's performance in the wake of the damning report.

Limited resources

Ciaran Rogan told BBC Radio Ulster that the company was doing all in its power with very limited resources.

"We've 3,500 staff out there, we carry 80 million passengers per year. The vast majority of those staff are committed and dedicated and want to provide a better service.

"We're committed to training. We're looking at ways within the organisation that we can improve things like passenger information going out to people.

"There are investment decisions. We fight for those, we're not forgetting those and we're tackling them."

The Consumer Council said the results of the survey were based on interviews with more than 3,500 passengers and focused on issues such as punctuality, vehicle cleanliness and staff helpfulness.

The scores were reached when the different aspects of service were weighted in accordance with the priorities of passengers, and the values added together to produce the customer performance index.

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See also:

03 Oct 99 | Northern Ireland
Bus drivers to continue industrial action
28 Oct 99 | Northern Ireland
US order for NI bus-builders
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