Meeting after Covid-related staff shortages lead to rural bus service cancellations

SINN Féin MLA for South Antrim Declan Kearney, along with Councillor Gary McCleave, has met with Translink senior management to address the issue of bus cancellations in the Antrim, Crumlin and Glenavy areas over recent weeks.

It is understood that workers, school children and shoppers were left stranded after some services were cut with little warning.

Speaking following the meeting, Mr Kearney said: “Our meeting with Translink to address recent bus service cancellations and disruption across the Antrim, Crumlin and Glenavy routes was very constructive.

“Both myself and Councillor McCleave represented the concerns of residents from the towns affected, and in their rural hinterlands who rely on a regular and dependable bus service.

“Translink management explained that staff shortages due to high levels of Covid related illness and self isolation had significantly disrupted recent services.

“We registered concern about the poor quality of messaging during this period. Translink agreed that this can be improved on in the future.

“We emphasised the need for management to be as flexible and innovative as possible with the redeployment of personnel to avoid sudden cancellation of regular routes, particularly at peak time travel.

“We also offered suggestions for consideration to address service planning issues if future disruption is anticipated.

““We have received reassurances that these proposals will be looked at. We were assured there is an expectation from management that workforce pressures will ease in the coming period and full services will resume as normal.

“I am grateful to the colleagues from Translink for their positive engagement with both myself and Councillor McCleave.

“The Sinn Féin South Antrim team will stay closely engaged with Translink in the coming period to ensure the needs of all constituents are adequately served with both resilient and consistent public transport services.”

A Translink spokesperson said:

"Translink delivers 12,500 services each day and reliability remains high across the network.

“We are currently experiencing some temporary short-term driver availability issues in the Antrim, Crumlin and Glenavy areas due to the impact of COVID-19.

“We are working hard to manage this impact, and utilising resources to ensure our timetables are met, prioritising school and peak time services.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our passengers who have been impacted by these difficulties.”

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