Transport
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12th May 2004

MLAs - YOU WILL GO ON MY FIRST WHISTLE!

<p>Age Concern and the General Consumer Council have joined forces to throw down the gauntlet to get local MLAs out of their cars and onto public transport on Wednesday 12 May.</p>

In towns and villages across Northern Ireland, 17 MLAs have accepted the challenge to make their way to a set destination without using a car. They are to act out scenarios ranging from picking up prescriptions to attending hospital appointments. They must also keep a record of their experiences in planning and making the journey.

Pam Tilson, Political Affairs Officer at Age Concern said: “The aim of the challenge is to highlight the positive and negative experiences that consumers, particularly older people, encounter in everyday journeys to places like the doctor's surgery, hospital and shopping centre. The challenge will also highlight the different experiences of rural and urban passengers. Access to and quality of travel information, waiting times and facilities, on-board comfort and staff attitude will all be recorded.”

Alan Walker, Head of Consumer Affairs at the General Consumer Council said: “The joint voice of Age Concern and the General Consumer Council will allow us to tease out the issues that concern passengers and inform this important debate.

“These journeys are challenging, but not impossible. They represent the real-life journeys that people without a car face every day. It will give us an opportunity to highlight the benefits of public transport as well as identifying areas for improvement.

“Today's event will be fun and no doubt, we'll get some interesting results, but our aim is a serious one. We will use the findings from today's challenge to inform our contribution to the Government's Accessible Transport Strategy and Regional Transport Strategy.

 “Public transport must become a more viable option here. That means that all journeys must be available, accessible, and good value for money. The General Consumer Council is committed to putting local passengers at the heart of an effective and modern public transport system.”

A Department for Regional Development (DRD) spokesperson said: “DRD is developing an Accessible Transport Strategy to improve access to the transportation system for older people and people with disabilities. The Department is involved in an extensive round of consultation to identify the barriers and problems these groups experience when using transport and get ideas to overcome or reduce these barriers. The results of Age Concern and the Consumer Council's MLA challenge will make a helpful contribution to DRD's work on the Strategy and a range of other initiatives that flow from the Regional Transportation Strategy.”

The challenges take place across Belfast, Antrim, Newtownabbey, Derry, Strabane, Cookstown, Limavady, Belleek, Enniskillen, Castlewellan, Kircubbin, Tandragee, Omagh and Dungannon. A full list is attached:

ENDS

  1. General Consumer Council media contact: Susie Brown, telephone, 028 9067 4807 or e-mail, [email protected]
  2. The General Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland's consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about electricity, natural gas, coal and passenger transport.
  3. For more information, visit our website at www.gccni.org.uk

MLA Transport Challenge – the journeys

BELFAST

Journey 1            MLA: Barbara De Brun

Starting Point: Connelly House, Andersonstown

Destination: La Salle Boys Junior School then Royal Victoria Hospital

Scenario:

You have to collect your grandchild from their school and bring them to the Royal Hospital to visit their mother who is in for an operation

The visiting time begins at 11.30 am and lasts half an hour, and then you have to bring your grandchild back to school before returning home.

Journey 2            MLA: Esmond Birnie

Starting Point: Stranmillis

Destination: Musgrave Park Hospital

Scenario:

You have an appointment at Musgrave Park Hospital at 10.30 am on the 12 May.  After your appointment you return to your starting point.

LISBURN

Journey 4:            MLA: Michael Ferguson

Starting Point: Poleglass

Destination: Solicitors and Sprucefield Shopping Centre

Scenario: You have an appointment with your solicitor in Lisburn at 10.30am and afterwards have to go shopping at the Homebase store at Sprucefield Shopping Centre.

LARNE

Journey 5            MLA:  Roy Beggs Jnr

Starting Point: Larne

Destination: Antrim Hospital

Scenario:

You have an appointment at the Antrim Hospital for 10.30 am on the 12 May.  Your appointment lasts for 30 minutes, and then you return to your starting point.

JORDANSTOWN

Journey 6            MLA: Ken Robinson

Starting Point: Jordanstown

Destination: Newtownabbey Borough Council and the Abbey Centre

Scenario:

You have to travel to Newtownabbey Borough Council offices to register a death/birth/marriage.  After this you have an appointment at the Opticians at the Abbey Centre at 11.30am and then return home.

DERRY

Journey 7            MLA: Mary Bradley

Starting Point: SDLP Office

Destination: Altnagelvin Hospital

Scenario:

You have an appointment at Altnagelvin Hospital for 10.30 am on the 12 May.  Your appointment lasts for half an hour, after which you need to go to a pharmacist to pick up a prescription before returning home.

Journey 8            MLA: Mary Nelis

Starting Point: Sinn Fein Office

Destination: School and then Dentist

  Scenario:

You have to get collect your young grandchild from their playgroup and bring them to the dentist for an appointment at 11am, which lasts half an hour, and then return home.

  STRABANE

Journey 9            MLA: Eugene McMenamin

Starting Point: Clady, Co Tyrone

Destination: Doctors Surgery in Strabane

Scenario:

You have an appointment at the Doctors at Mourneside Medical Centre on Ballycolman Avenue at 10:30 on 12 May.  After your appointment you need to travel to a pharmacy to collect your prescription and then return to your starting point.

  COOKSTOWN

Journey 10            MLA: Francie Molloy

Starting Point: Cookstown Sinn Fein Office or Home Address

Destination: Post Office and Leisure Centre

Scenario:

You have to travel to Killymoon Street Post Office to collect your pension and then have to be at Cookstown Leisure Centre to attend the "60+ Club" at 11.30am.

LIMAVADY

Journey 11            MLA: George Robinson

Starting Point: Limavady

Destination: Housing Executive Grants Office

Scenario:

You have an appointment at the Housing Executive Grants Office in Londonderry at 10.30 am on 12 May.  The appointment lasts for 30 minutes and then you return home.

  BELLEEK

Journey 12            MLA: Tommy Gallagher

Starting Point: Belleek

Destination: Fermanagh District Council

Scenario: You have to travel to Fermanagh District Council offices to register a death/birth/marriage and then return to your starting point. You have an appointment to see someone at the Council at 10.30 am.

  ENNISKILLEN

Journey 13            MLA: Tom Elliott

Starting Point: Home

Destination: Doctor's surgery and then shopping

  Scenario: You have to travel to the doctor's surgery in Irvinestown and then go shopping before returning home.

SOUTH DOWN

Journey 14            MLA: Catriona Ruane

Starting Point: Newcastle or other location

Destination: Down District Council 24 Strangford Road Downpatrick BT30 6SR

  Scenario

You have to travel to Down District Council offices to register a death/birth/marriage and then return to your starting point.  You have an appointment to see someone at 10.30 am.

  KIRCUBBIN

Journey 15            MLA: Kieran McCarthy

Starting Point: Kircubbin

Destination: Ards Central Post Office and then Ards Shopping Centre

Scenario

You have to travel to Ards Central Post Office then to meet a friend at Ards Shopping Centre at 11.30am to do some shopping before returning home.

  TANDRAGEE

Journey 16            MLA:             Paul Berry

Starting Point: DUP Office 78 Market Street, Tandragee

Destination: Rushmere Shopping Centre, Craigavon

Scenario:

You are meeting a friend at Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon at 10.30am to do some shopping before returning home.

Journey 17,18 and 19

Dr Kieran Deeny and colleagues

All three will start from the same location and make their way to the three hospitals in Omagh, Enniskillen and Dungannon.

 

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