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Belfast Deputy Mayor hits out at animals on buses policy


Issue: Peter McReynolds

Issue: Peter McReynolds

Freddie Parkinson

Issue: Peter McReynolds

Belfast's Deputy Lord Mayor has criticised Translink's policy for dogs on public transport as vague and bland.

Alliance councillor Peter McReynolds had urged the public transport provider to review and enhance its policy about dogs on buses and trains, bringing Belfast into line with other cities and towns across the UK and Europe.

But he told the city growth and regeneration committee recently that the response had been "disappointing".

Chris Conway, group chief executive of Translink, replied in a brief letter to the council: "In line with other bus and rail companies, Translink's policy allows for all dogs to be carried on our services; however we do give discretion to our staff and drivers.

"There are sound operational reasons for using discretion. Not all dogs are clean or well behaved and other passengers can have legitimate grounds for objecting, such as phobias or allergies. We believe our current policy balances the aspiration for open access with the need for some mechanism to assess what is appropriate and protect the needs of other passengers."

But Mr McReynolds said the policy permitting "all dogs" on board was not borne out by fact. He said: "That simply isn't the experience of many people who have contacted me to advise they have been ejected from buses in Belfast and across Northern Ireland."

He said one of his constituents had to leave a Glider bus with her docile dog at the request of the driver. "This was despite protests from other passengers and the fact another passenger was asleep to the rear of the bus and had urinated on himself. He wasn't ejected."

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The councillor said the dog owner was "fearful" of using public transport again. He added: "While I am disappointed at the response, I will continue to raise the issue."

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