Anger as bus service axed

DISAPPOINTMENT has been expressed by commuters and an Assemblyman that a bus service is to be axed in north Antrim, writes Nevin Farrell.

The 16.45 bus from Coleraine which travels to Ballymoney - leaving the town around 17.15 before going through Armoy and on to Ballycastle - will stop on June 30.

That means people travelling out of Ballymoney to Armoy and Ballycastle will no longer be able to avail of a handy service just minutes after the average 5pm working day ends and instead will now have to wait until 6pm for a bus home.

One bus user told the Times: “This 5.15 bus fitted needs just great. It was handy to nip out at 5pm and get the bus without much hanging about. You would have thought a bus leaving about 15 minutes after most people get out of work would be kept on.

“Now bus users have to hang about in Ballymoney until 6pm and not get home to some time after that. It means a longer day and to be honest I don’t know if it will suit any more. Standing about in the cold during the winter for an hour for a bus will not be very pleasant. Maybe people will have to organise a lift if they can get one so Translink will have shot themselves in the foot.”

North Antrim DUP Assemblyman Mervyn Storey is also unhappy at the change.

“The issue should be about trying to get people to use their services to make them more sustainable instead of cutting service and do Translink believe there will be a bigger uptake on a bus leaving at 6pm? This is disappointing and I want Translink to look at this again.

“Now people will have to travel later and not get home until later.”

And Mr Storey also wants to know if the timing of the new bus service will integrate with the arrival of trains at Ballymoney Railway Station to assist in seamless trips home for commuters.

A Translink spokesperson told the Times: “In order to make the best use of the resources we have available, we have had to make some changes to our local bus services.

“As such we have been examining the poorest performing parts of our network and, where appropriate, enhancing other parts which are performing well or have the potential to sustain and grow passenger numbers.

“Due to falling passenger numbers, the 16.45 Ulsterbus Service 178 from Coleraine to Ballycastle via Ballymoney will be withdrawn from June 30th 2011. We have however made adjustments to the 17.45 Service 178, which will now depart Coleraine at 17.30, calling at Ballymoney at approximately 18.00 and going on to Ballycastle.”