As 2022 dawns, Translink will continue working to deliver a much-needed modal shift in our transport habits towards public and other sustainable modes, writes group chief executive Chris Conway
The move to sustainable travel will be essential to help our society combat the ongoing climate crisis, achieve net zero and deliver a cleaner, greener world for us all.
The ongoing build-back from the worst effects of the pandemic place Translink right at the heart of a green recovery – the last couple of years have highlighted the importance of bus and rail travel in keeping our communities connected and the role we can play on the journey to net zero that is now so essential for our planet.
This year, Translink will continue to deliver on our ambitions to make everyone in Northern Ireland better connected. This will include the ongoing transition to a fully net zero fleet by 2040, with more zero emission vehicles, both battery electric and hydrogen, entering service.
We’ll operate the fourth largest zero emission bus fleet in the UK and Ireland by the middle of this year and we’re very proud that Derry~Londonderry will be the first city in these islands to benefit from a fully zero emission bus fleet. This year will see approximately one third of the Metro fleet in Belfast operating on zero emission technology; the entire Metro fleet will have been converted by 2030.
We are also looking towards similar progress on our railway network; by the end of the summer, we will be operating all 21 of our new Class 4000 carriages, delivering 1,600 additional seats. Plans are advancing for a shift towards a zero emission railway and the procurement of new fleet to deliver an hourly service on the cross-border Enterprise service.
The success of Glider has led to the development of Glider phase two, which will serve north and south Belfast through the city centre. Glider has helped to deliver economic revitalisation in east and west Belfast and has encouraged greater take-up of public transport. We will work with the Department for Infrastructure to deliver the service along the preferred route when it is announced.
This year will also witness a major development in our transport infrastructure – main works will commence on the Belfast Transport Hub. An Executive flagship project, it will be at the heart of the proposed Weavers Cross city neighbourhood.
Translink will deliver contactless ticketing during 2022 with the delivery of our Translink Future Ticketing System, providing greater flexibility for our customers. This will facilitate the use of contactless credit and debit card payments on-board our services, as well as the use of mobile app payments and off-board ticketing options.
However, significant challenges remain – government spending per head on public transport in Northern Ireland is still only around 27% of the UK average and many of Translink’s key ambitions are dependent on appropriate funding. Despite an increase in capital funding in recent years, underinvestment will take years to be addressed.
We will continue to work with local councils and other stakeholders in relation to urban and housing planning to ensure that public and sustainable modes of transport can play their full part in driving a modal shift, growing passenger numbers and working towards net zero transport in Northern Ireland by 2040.
This year will be an exciting year for Translink and one in which we will continue to grow and develop public transport in Northern Ireland – we invite the whole community to join us in our journey to make our community better connected.
For more information, see www.translink.co.uk