Transport Minister Danny Kennedy today announced a festive package of public transport measures to help shoppers and traders in the run up to Christmas.
These measures will include the expansion of Park and Ride services, free of charge Park and Rides, fare promotions and an embargo on road works over the Christmas period.
The Minister said: “The aim of this package of measures is to make public transport even more accessible, low-cost and more attractive for people coming into their city centres over the festive season. In doing so, these measures will also make it easier for those who need to use a car to park and drive within the cities. Park and Rides in Belfast, Lisburn, Newry and Londonderry will be free of charge and will operate for longer hours during late night shopping days and also on Saturdays. Translink will offer a number of great fare deals and promotions for bus and rail travel.”
Danny Kennedy said: “Traders have experienced a difficult time. The economic downturn has decreased footfall all around Northern Ireland as people have less disposable income. I am confident these measures will provide a welcome boost for traders. Many shoppers who previously travelled by car gave public transport a try over the last year and no doubt many more will do so again this Christmas.
“For those using the roads, all planned road works on key arterial routes in the Greater Belfast area will cease during the festive period. This includes the utility companies, as well as Roads Service. Only emergency works will take place if absolutely needed.”
The roadworks embargo will happen in the Greater Belfast area including Bangor and Lisburn from 25 November 2013 until after Christmas; and in Londonderry from 30 November 2013 to 5 January 2014. However, major works schemes which span the embargo period such as the A2 Shore Road Greenisland will be exempt.
The Minister said: “Unfortunately this year it is not expected to expand this embargo to Newry however this is something I would like to see in the future and I have asked my Department to explore this expansion.
“My Department will continue to work with and support the PSNI in its ‘Don’t Drink and Drive Christmas 2013’ campaign and urge people to leave the car at home and use public transport.”
Carol Lundy, Translink Brand Manager said: “Together with the Department we have created an attractive transport package to benefit our customers, local traders and the economy during the festive period. Along with free and convenient Park & Ride services, we have a wide range of discounted bus, coach and train tickets to help cut the cost of Christmas.
“Our popular Love Metro Saturdays £2 day ticket will be available every Saturday until 28 December providing unlimited day travel in greater Belfast.
“We will also continue to offer a 1/3 off NI Railways and selected Goldline coach services after 9.30am and customers using Smartlink can also make great savings of over 30% compared to paying normal cash fares. Our ‘Family & Friends’ ticket provides up to 2 adults and 4 children with unlimited all day bus and rail travel throughout Northern Ireland for just £20. We are also teaming-up with local traders to provide exclusive Translink customer discounts.
“This transport package is great news for shoppers and we would encourage more people to take advantage of it to help make Christmas both more affordable and hassle-free. You can find out about all our special tickets and services online – http://www.translink.co.uk/christmas2013 or call 028 90 66 66 30,” said Carol.
Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) said: "This is good news for both shoppers and traders alike. Given the big challenges facing our Town Centres this is an excellent initiative to facilitate shoppers who use Public Transport or their car this Christmas.
"I also hope that shoppers will increasingly view Public Transport as their first option, rather than last option this Christmas to ease congestion on our roads."
Paul McMahon, President, Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce said: “Today’s announcement is welcomed by Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce and will help encourage shoppers and visitors into Belfast over the festive period, which is the core trading period for businesses in the city. We work closely alongside Minister Kennedy and the DRD to help bring projects like this to light and are delighted by today’s announcement.”
The free Saturday Park and Ride Services will start on 16 November. The evening Park and Ride Services will start on 2 December in line with late night shopping arrangements. For full details of the measures announced please visit http://www.translink.co.uk/christmas2013
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