Belfast Telegraph

Bangor Easibus protest arrives at Assembly

By Brian Lovett

A North Down MLA called on the Regional Development Minister to reinstate the Easibus service in Bangor during a Northern Ireland Assembly debate.

Translink, which runs the Bangor service, recently announced that it was removing two Easibus services from the town.

Easibus, which was introduced in 2000, provides accessible local transport to elderly and disabled people.

However last year the department, along with Translink, took the decision to withdraw it.

There is currently a reduced service in the town and it is due to end in June this year.

At the Assembly debate last week North Down MLA Alex Easton called on Minister Conor Murphy to reinstate the Easibus service.

“Many people have been very unhappy about the news that Translink is to withdraw the Easibus service in Bangor,” Mr Easton said.

“My office has been inundated with complaints about the decision taken by Translink and the Department for Regional Development (DRD) to completely withdraw this valuable service by June this year.

“Easibus services are different from normal bus services in that they are special buses adapted to accommodate the needs of those with disabilities or walking difficulties. The drivers are also specially trained to support and meet the needs of passengers.

“As a result of withdrawing this service I fear that many people will become house-bound, or be forced to hire taxis in order to get about their daily business.”

He added: “Over 20 percent of my constituents are over the age of 60. The department and Translink are letting these people down.”

A DRD spokeswoman said: “The Easibus service will cease in June 2010 as information shows that the service is not being used wholly or mainly by people with disabilities, this being the criteria for the funding of Easibus services which is provided under the department's Transport Programme for People with Disabilities.

“Easibus is being replaced by the local town services in Bangor which are all fully accessible and will cover about 92% of the routes currently covered by Easibus.

“For those who can't use the town service due to disability then Door-2-Door is already in place.”

Translink’s local service delivery manager Richard Hudson said: “We are committed to making services accessible for everyone and have been and will continue to work with local disability groups regarding these changes.”

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