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Vandals cause £53,000 worth of damage to Gliders in one year


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The Glider service was launched in 2018

The Glider service was launched in 2018

Damage by vandals to one of the vehicles

Damage by vandals to one of the vehicles

Robin Newton

Robin Newton

Mandatory Credit Darren Kidd/Pre

The Glider service was launched in 2018

Vandalism to Belfast's Glider bus service has cost more than £50,000 in the last year.

The damage to vehicles and ticket machines has been branded "shameful".

The figures were released by Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon after an Assembly question from DUP MLA Robin Newton.

In the 12 months to April this year, vandalism to Glider bus vehicles cost £25,000 while damage to ticket machines was even greater at £28,000 - a total of £53,000.

The minister also revealed that the level of passenger fare evasion was 5%.

The cost of damage to shelters was not included, with the company Clear Channel contracted to supply and maintain them for Translink.

"These vandalism figures are deeply disappointing," Mr Newton, an East Belfast MLA, said.

"That within 12 months vandals damaged the buses and ticket machines and cost the public £53,000 is shameful."

He added that the full cost of the damage was unknown as it was likely the same vandals targeted both ticket machines and shelters.

Mr Newton said it was also likely the rate of unpaid fare detection was much higher than 5%.

"The Glider service is a valued public service, it has been embraced by the public and passenger numbers have exceeded expectations," he said.

"The positive side of this rapid transport system is welcomed by users.

"However, as the planned expansion of the system is rolled out the minister cannot be self-congratulatory or complacent; she must, at this stage tackle, the vandalism and fare dodging."

Translink was contacted for a response over the figures.

The figures follow an appeal from Translink in May after Glider services in west Belfast were affected by a rise in anti-social behaviour.

This included vandalism of shelters and ticketing machines as well as the crowding of vehicles by groups of youths.

One service in west Belfast was also temporarily withdrawn after two separate attacks in February.

Ms Mallon's answer to Mr Newton noted that after being launched in 2018, the Glider service exceeded the passenger target by two million, carrying 9.6m passengers.

Running costs in the first year were 12% greater than predicted, due in part to the need to introduce additional Glider services to meet the higher demand.

Fare revenue was 18.5% higher than expected which allowed the service to perform financially better than first predicted in the original business case.

Earlier this year the Belfast Telegraph reported on the scale of attacks and abuse directed at Translink staff.

Employees suffered more than 600 physical or verbal attacks in the five years to October 2019.

Translink workers took 1,097 sick days in that period after suffering 639 assaults, figures show.

There were 186 staff assaults reported between January and October 2019 compared to 94 in the whole of 2015.

Translink, in a statement condemned the attacks.

“We undertake on-going education, information and community campaigns, advising of and encouraging, safe use of Glider and public transport and we would urge young people to consider the consequences of their actions.

“The rate of fare compliance was in excess of 95%, which is within acceptable parameters for an open boarding transport system”.

Belfast Telegraph