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Translink must not use public money like petty cash

Published 15/05/2015

Normally, the issue tackled by the editorial comment in the Belfast Telegraph makes people sit up and pay attention - none more so than when it focused on a ministerial answer to my question on Translink staff taxi fares (DebateNI, May 12).

This particular penetrative comment line must have caught the mood of a good many in respect of Translink: "It may be time to consider removing Translink's privileged monopoly status and introducing the company to the rigours of the market economy."

Translink is a private company financed by public money. Its trains, buses, rail tracks, bus lanes and buildings are bought for the company by public money.

A company which raises fares without consultation and cuts services to suit itself, a company under contract to break even annually. A business, when it hits a loss-making position, that is bailed out with public money.

Recently it faced a loss of £9m. Later, the Department for Regional Development ploughed in a concession fare subsidy release of how much? Yes, you guessed right: £9m. This is a company about which its chief executive recently said: "Translink's future is under threat." I say this is a company out of departmental control.

I applaud your editorial comment for drawing attention to Translink's cavalier attitude in using public money to pay for its staff taxi fares. However, this is just one illustration in a litany of foolhardy spending.

Propping-up a loss-making business is one thing - allowing it to treat public money as petty cash is intolerable.


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