Belfast Telegraph

Translink: Three transportation firms under a single name

By Rebecca Black

The structure of our public transport system is anything but simple.

Translink is a marketing name that was adopted in 1996 to refer to the three operating companies running public transport - Citybus (now Metro), NI Railways and Ulsterbus.

However, the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (NITHC) - a public corporation established under the 1967 Transport Act - appears to own most of the assets, including bus stations and depots.

Both Translink and NITHC have boards. The transport system employs thousands of workers, driving buses and trains, maintaining the vehicles, as well as administrative staff.

Translink explains on its website that the board of the NITHC is responsible to the Department for Regional Development (DRD) for the operation of its subsidiary companies, Citybus, NI Railways and Ulsterbus, which deliver public transport services.

DRD gives around £140m a year for the running of public transport.

Translink made a profit of £2m in the financial year 2012-13, but this dropped to £0.3m in 2013-14.

Translink's accounts also showed it was holding £56m in cash reserves.

The Translink chief executive is paid a salary believed to be around £200,000.

The number of journeys taken on NI Railways was up 15% to 13.1 million, which Translink said was the highest since the 1960s.

Passenger numbers on Metro and Goldline bus services increased by a small amount, but numbers on Ulsterbus services reduced slightly.

Bus and train fares are due to rise next month by more than three times the rate of inflation.

Last month the Belfast Telegraph revealed that Translink was facing a £15m cut in its funding from DRD.

As a result Armagh city and 13 provincial towns could lose their urban services completely.

Local bus services in seven more towns could also be pared back.

The DRD committee at Stormont has been undertaking a major review of our public transport system in recent months.

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