Belfast Telegraph

45 new buses to be ordered in Stormont spending agreement

An extra 45 buses are to be ordered as part of borrowing agreed at Stormont House.

They will be purchased from Ballymena-based Wrightbus and other operators after the Executive allocated £10 million for the new spending.

The funding includes £30 million left over from the voluntary exit scheme and is part of measures designed to stimulate the economy linked to the Stormont House Agreement.

However, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), a controversial scheme encouraging green energy, has left the Executive with a bill of £20 million a year for years to come, officials who reviewed the public spending budget have confirmed.

Stormont finance minister Mairtin O Muilleoir announced funding for the First Step Stimulus borrowing package which was part of the Stormont House Agreement.

He said: "The Executive has agreed £15 million for roads structural maintenance and a further £10 million will be made available for the purchase of new buses.

"This will provide a welcome boost to our construction and manufacturing sectors whilst delivering improvements in our transport infrastructure."

The package includes £5 million for a regeneration fund for community projects in marginalised communities that have never benefited from peace process.

The minister said: "I believe that targeted regeneration will help to build upon the progress our society has made in recent years and act as a lever to stimulate economic growth in the communities where it is most needed."

The minister set out details of reallocations to departments as part of the October Monitoring Round, which shifts money between departments during a budgetary year.

Spending will include:

:: £4.8 million to the Department of Health for Translarna Muscular Dystrophy treatments

:: £2.5 million to the Department for the Economy for route development at City of Derry Airport

:: £1 million to the Education Department for Irish medium nurture units and other pressures

:: £600,000 to the Public Prosecution Service

:: £22.7 million for capital building expenditure

:: £13 million to the Education Department for minor work and the purchase of furniture and equipment in schools

:: £8.7 million for the Health Department for essential maintenance and defibrillators for ambulances

:: £1 million to the Infrastructure Department for investment in LED street lighting

Around £150 million a year will be saved in staff costs through the voluntary exit scheme. Future rounds of redundancies will widen it from the core civil service to arm's-length bodies.

Translink Group chief executive Chris Conway said the new buses would serve Metro, Ulsterbus and Goldline routes.

"We are pleased that approximately £4 million of this investment will include 20 new Metro double decker buses procured from local supplier Wrightbus.

"These buses will modernise our fleet, improve reliability and enhance our offer to customers.

"Buses will be fitted with Euro 6 diesel engines with the lowest emissions to ensure we deliver energy efficiency and protect the environment.

"This investment supports our strategy to grow public transport which is one of the key outcomes in the draft programme for government."


From Belfast Telegraph