26th May 2000


<p>Cutbacks in bus and rail services starting next week will deepen Ulster’s public transport crisis, according to the General Consumer Council, the passenger’s watchdog.</p>

Bus services are to be cut by 3 - 4% throughout Northern Ireland when the new timetable comes into effect on Monday 29 May. While most rail services will survive, trains are likely to run with fewer carriages resulting in more overcrowding. The service cutbacks come within two months of fares increases of almost twice the rate of inflation. Maeve Bell, Director of the Consumer Council, said: “This is another major blow for passengers. Increased fares, service cutbacks and ageing vehicles are driving people away from public transport at an accelerating pace. Translink is having to run on a shoestring, with less than half the public funding available to private transport companies in Great Britain. Substantial investment in public transport is urgently needed to recover from years of under-funding.” ENDS Notes to Editors 1. For further information contact Maeve Bell on 9067 2488. Previous press releases from the Council on public transport can be found on the Council’s website 2. Translink's new timetable shows a cut in services of between 3-4% across all bus services. While there have not been large cutbacks in the number of train services it appears that some services will run with lower capacity as more carriages are withdrawn on safety grounds. 3. Fares increased by an average of 4 ½% in early April.