Monday, March 2nd: Unite Officer with responsibility for Public Transport, Davy McMurray, has written to demand an urgent meeting with DRD Minister, Danny Kennedy, after Translink management excused their refusal to give details on planned cuts as having been ordered by the Minister himself.
“Last week, Translink management made great play out of proposals to cut recurrent management expenditure by £2.1 million. They remain tight-lipped about where the axe will fall to make up the rest of the £13 million cut to the bus and rail budget. Unite has repeatedly sought further information from Translink management on this but they have refused, indicating that they have been directed by the Minister to provide no details to unions or the wider public.
“This is a matter of public interest and this decision should be opened to public scrutiny and consultation. We are seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister to ask why he wants to keep unions and the public in the dark over his plans for £13 million cuts to public transport.
“Unite is currently ballotting our members across Translink for strike action against proposals which, on the basis of a management document leaked in December 2014 are likely to see scores of town bus services slashed across Northern Ireland. Leaked plans included a sharp reduction in the number of local pick up points and cuts to rail schedules on ‘uneconomic’ routes.
“All of these moves will have an adverse impact on the most vulnerable in our society. It is an attack on older people, the disabled, families with children and those who just cannot afford to run a car – all of whom are dependent on public transport to go to the shop, library, their GP or other essential services. Cuts to town bus services will also have a devastating impact on small businesses in town centres.
“Passenger numbers are already likely to fall due to the short-sighted fares hike. This is only likely to be further exacerbated by these cuts to bus and rail services which will force increased reliance on cars. These cuts are a false economy as they result in even bigger pressures on roads maintenance budgets and the long-term cost of adverse environmental impacts”, Mr McMurray concluded.