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Vandals 'putting lives at risk' by damaging Belfast's Glider ticket machines that stop coronavirus spread


The Glider service has been disrupted in west Belfast

The Glider service has been disrupted in west Belfast

The Glider service has been disrupted in west Belfast

Gangs of youths on west Belfast's Glider buses are putting lives at risk by vandalising contactless ticket machines that prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The service is used by key workers, such as nurses travelling to and from the Royal Victoria Hospital, Northern Ireland's biggest hospital.

Earlier this month, one concerned driver told the Belfast Telegraph that he and his colleagues were prepared to go on strike unless Translink intervened.

He said there had been attacks on drivers, intimidation and a rise in the number of staff suffering anxiety and panic attacks at the wheel.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

And in February, Glider services to Colin Connect in west Belfast were withdrawn after two separate attacks, when buses were left with smashed windows after coming under attack from youths.

Translink last night issued an appeal for people the west of the city to help keep Glider services safe for the whole community.

In recent weeks, anti-social behaviour associated with Glider services, particularly vandalism of shelters and ticket vending machines (TVMs) and crowding of vehicles by groups of youths, has been a problem in parts of west Belfast.

The bus company said ticket machines had been damaged and disrupted.

It said this has caused problems and inconvenience for key workers who rely on public transport to complete essential journeys during the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak. The problem persisted into the Bank Holiday weekend, with crowds of young people using services, flouting social distancing rules and inconveniencing key frontline workers.

Translink service delivery manager Sean McGreevy said: "Many local essential workers rely on public transport to get to and from work, and I'm disappointed that these key journeys have been made more difficult by vandalism and attacks on ticket vending machines (TVMs) and halts.

"The TVMs have helped to revolutionise public transport, allowing for off-vehicle ticketing and helping to speed up the process of boarding.

"They also allow for contactless payment and top-up, and this matters, especially in the context of Covid-19, with a marked shift to contactless and pre-payment options.

"Our teams are doing all they can to keep the TVMs clean, but the actions of a few are making the lives of the whole community more challenging.

"We have introduced strict social distancing on-board services and in bus and rail stations to help keep public transport safe for everyone, passengers and staff alike, and we continue to encourage that the whole community to make essential journeys only at this time so that public transport is kept safe for everyone."

He added: "We ask for the community's continued support and assistance as we work to provide the best possible service for everyone at this time.

"No-one in west Belfast wins as a result of selfish vandalism, and it must stop.''