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Translink: here if you need us

In these unprecedented times, Translink is making every effort to keep passengers and staff safe and to keep Northern Ireland moving as we look towards a recovery, writes chief executive Chris Conway

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Chris Conway

Chris Conway

Aaron McCracken Photography

Chris Conway

This has been an unparalleled period for businesses across Northern Ireland – Covid-19 has resulted in most people staying at home to save lives and not travelling for work purposes

We have worked alongside colleagues in the Department for Infrastructure and across the Northern Ireland Executive to maintain an effective public transport service in very difficult circumstances while ensuring that appropriate measures are in place to keep everyone safe.

Timetable changes and reductions in frequency have helped to provide resilience to Northern Ireland’s response to Covid-19 and have allowed us to ensure that public transport coverage is retained for essential workers.

We will keep timetables under constant review in the weeks ahead, with additional peak services introduced to accommodate social distancing on board. We have been delighted to offer free travel to NHS and carer staff as they undertake essential journeys.

A key priority in helping to combat the virus has been to introduce appropriate social distancing policies. Passenger numbers have been limited onboard all services, with screens fitted to protect staff and passengers. Frontline staff have been provided with gloves and hand sanitiser, and social distancing measures continue to be enforced.

I’m grateful to colleagues across Translink who have played such a key role in keeping Northern Ireland moving during this difficult time.

In order to help our economy recover, Translink will be there to help people complete essential journeys, with safety remaining our top priority in the weeks ahead. Every effort is being made to ensure that public transport is a safe place for both passengers and staff.

Anyone travelling through our bus and rail stations will notice that measures are in place to keep everyone safe, including signage in stations and on board, as well as hand sanitiser dispensers.

Our ‘no change’ policy on board will continue, and we continue to promote pre-paid tickets such as mLink and Smartlink and contactless payment methods – these are now seen as preferable options.

We’re also asking passengers to be patient as we implement measures concerning safe access to and from buses and trains, with passengers waiting to board asked to stand aside and space out sufficiently while those exiting the vehicle do so. We want to ensure the right level of peak services are in place for essential commuter journeys to allow everyone to maintain a safe social distance. We recommend that, if possible, you travel outside the peak times and leave extra time for your journey.

We have been delighted to support the international #ChasetheRainbow campaign with the introduction of our Trainbows on the railway network and images of rainbows on buses and shelters. We’ve also been proud to join everyone in #ClapforCarers on Thursday evenings, demonstrating our support for key workers in our society, as well as applauding our own colleagues who have played such an important role in getting Northern Ireland through this crisis.

We are grateful for the patience and support of passengers at this time and ask everyone to remember that these measures are in place to keep us all – passengers and staff alike – safe.

Moving forward, I believe better days lie ahead and that public transport will have a key role to play in the economic recovery to follow, helping to connect people and communities to business and employment opportunities.

We also cannot forget the climate emergency, which has not disappeared, and Translink will continue to be at the forefront of local efforts to alleviate this in the months ahead, with our ongoing investment in new technologies, including hydrogen and hybrid-electric, moving us towards a zero carbon fleet. Work will also be continuing, with appropriate social distancing, on the Belfast Transport Hub and North-West Transport Hub in Derry~Londonderry, which will assist the recovery of the local construction industry and help provide a boost to the local economy as the recovery process gets underway.

Above all, I want to emphasise that Translink services are here if you need us, but we encourage people to avoid non-essential travel for the time being as we work to keep public transport safe for everyone. We stand ready to play our part in progressing our community to a better place.