07th April 2005


<p>The Consumer Council today said that bus and rail punctuality must be improved to deliver long-term growth on public transport services in Northern Ireland. The Council was responding to Translink’s Charter Monitoring results carried out in Autumn 2004, which have been published today.</p>

The survey, which was carried out before the launch of the Metro service and the arrival of the new trains, showed that Citybus and Ulsterbus failed to meet their Passenger Charter Standards on punctuality.  NIR also failed to meets it Charter punctuality targets on the Bangor, Larne and Portadown lines.

Commenting on the results Alan Walker, Head of Consumer Affairs at the Consumer Council said:  “Passengers have made it clear that punctuality is the most important factor when using bus and train services.  We are therefore disappointed that Translink has not met its punctuality standards.  Charter targets are the minimum standard required and not just an aspirational goal.  

He added: “The Council supports the Regional Transportation Strategy and enhancements to improve public transport services and is working to encourage increased use of all bus and rail services.  However, good punctuality is essential foundation to deliver results by making public transport more attractive to car users and getting more people on to our buses and trains.  We will be seeking further discussions with Translink to discuss the reasons behind the punctuality problems and identifying what steps are required to put it right to ensure that targets are met and exceeded in the future.”

 Charter TargetCitybusUlsterbusNIR
Buses (% of buses no more than 7 minutes late)95%90%93%-

NIR Dublin/Londonderry Lines

(% of trains arriving within 10 minutes of published time)

NIR Bangor, Portadown & Larne Lines (% of trains arriving within 5 minutes of published time)95%  88%

When passengers were asked to rate punctuality of services 53 per cent of Citybus passengers, 54 per cent of NIR passengers and 78 per cent of Ulsterbus passengers said that they believed punctuality to be good. 

Alan Walker continued: “These results set the agenda for action.  The introduction of improved bus services with the Ulsterbus Goldliner network and the Metro service are important steps in making public transport a viable option for more potential passengers. It is up to Translink and the Department for Regional Development to meet this challenge and deliver passengers what they want, including more bus lanes and bus priority, in order to meet the targets set out in the Regional Transportation Strategy.”

The Council also expressed disappointment at Translink's recent decision to reduce the operational hours of its telephone information call centre.  The call centre now closes at 8pm instead of 10pm. 

Alan Walker said:

“Consumers continue to demand clear, concise and timely information.  We welcome improvements to passenger information in recent years with new timetables, more at bus stops and the Translink internet facility.  However, the call centre is of high importance with around a quarter of all passengers making use of it.  We are concerned at a reduction in passengers' access to this source of information at a time of great change with the new Metro service and extensive railways works on the Larne and Dublin railway lines.   It also comes at a time when customer satisfaction with the call centre fell from 92% in Spring 2004 to 78% in Autumn 2004.” 

The Consumer Council said that they will be monitoring closely the results of the Spring 2005 Charter monitoring survey which is due to commence shortly.


  1. Consumer Council media contact: Susie Brown, telephone, 028 9067 4807 or e-mail, [email protected]
  2. Public Transport Monitoring Results: Autumn 2004.  This independent survey was carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company as part of the monitoring of Translink Passenger Charter.  The surveys were carried out between  4th October and 3rd December 2004.
  3. The 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.

For more information, visit our website at