Additional bus and train services should be provided to accommodate late-night shoppers and party-goers in Belfast in the run-up to Christmas, it has been claimed.
Gareth McCormack from Ballymoney, Co Antrim, travelled to the city by train last Friday to enjoy a Christmas party with friends.
But he branded Translink’s timetable “inadequate”, claiming it does not cater for people who want to stay out late in the city to enjoy the festivities.
The 33-year-old told the News Letter: “The last train from Belfast to Ballymoney leaves Central Station at 10.50pm, which is not much use if you are on a night out.
“I had considered staying in a hotel, but most places were fully booked or the prices were ramped up for Christmas, so it would have cost a fortune.
“I ended up having to get a taxi with a friend back to his house in Ballymena, which cost us almost £40.
“When you add that on to the price of your Christmas dinner and factor in drinks as well, it can be a very expensive night out.
“I had a similar bad experience the previous weekend when I came up to the city to do some Christmas shopping with my girlfriend.
“I know there is a push to get people to use public transport in Belfast, but it is a nightmare relying the bus or train when you are shopping.
“For one thing, the buses are always absolutely packed and a lot of the time are completely full.
“We waited at Bridge Street to catch the bus back to Ballymoney, but it was already full and didn’t even stop.
“We ended up having to walk to the train station in a hurry to try and catch the last train home.
“The trains are overcrowded as well and overall it is just not a pleasant experience. They should put on extra services at this time of year to cope with the increased numbers of people.
“On top of that, as I mentioned already, the last bus and train out of Belfast leave far too early.
“If you are in town all day doing some shopping and want to have a few drinks with friends, or if you are on your work night out, you don’t want to be worrying about having to leave early to run and catch the last train or bus back home.
“The whole experience is pretty stressful and off-putting.”