Belfast Telegraph

Time to consider ending Translink monopoly: MLA

By Claire McNeilly

The chair of a Stormont scrutiny committee has said it is time to consider a challenge to Translink’s monopoly on public transport.

Jimmy Spratt was speaking after senior management at Translink were questioned yesterday about the company’s budget and projected deficit.

Among them was Translink's chief executive Catherine Mason, who said senior managers were doing more work and she was not taking a pay rise on her £198,000 salary.

The bus and rail provider — which operates a monopoly across the province — raised its fares by 3% last month. It also emerged that it expects to move into the red after this financial year.

But the DUP’s Mr Spratt said he “wasn’t satisfied” that Translink was “moving from £3m profit into an £11m deficit in the next year”.

He also asked the panel if the company’s management board was “fit for purpose”, given that it was predicting a deficit despite receiving “substantial” government funding of £72m per year.

“The bottom line is that this organisation needs to do better and it’s incumbent on the department to look at the entire structure within Translink and the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company and see if there is a better way of doing business,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“Translink has the market to itself, but competition is healthy and we should at least explore the theory of private companies being able to provide provision in the public transport system.”

The Regional Development Committee was told that difficult decisions may have to be made to balance Translink's books, which could include job losses, service reductions and increases to fares.

Ms Mason argued Translink received the lowest level of government funding per passenger than anywhere in the UK or Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph


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