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DRD on the wrong road in its choice of Belfast bus

While it is extremely disappointing that a world-renowned, locally-based manufacturer was bypassed by the Department for Regional Development (DRD) in favour of the Belgium-based Van Hool (News, December 5), what's most perplexing is DRD's choice of articulated buses for Belfast.

Articulated buses have a chequered history. While they have been - and will no doubt continue to be - successful in specific applications, issues with manoeuvrability, parking and safety led to their withdrawal from London. Dublin also experimented with articulated buses, but again, these were withdrawn from service.

So, why is Belfast any different?

Many believe that at least part of the answer lies in the sanctimonious attitude of DRD, which forced through the decision to use articulated buses in spite of solid evidence suggesting an alternative type of bus would be best for Belfast.

Belfast needs a Belfast Rapid Transit (BRT), but it needs a successful BRT, rather than one compromised by the use of articulated buses, which have proven unsuccessful in other major cities.

So, while it's extremely disappointing that Wrightbus was bypassed, let's not compound this decision by allowing DRD to spend taxpayers' money on buses without first ensuring they are fit for purpose. While we haven't done what's best for Ballymena, we still have the opportunity to do what's best for Belfast.

Politicians must press for a public inquiry into DRD's decision to use articulated buses and, if historical evidence from London and Dublin is proven correct, then we may at least salvage something by ensuring £19m of taxpayers' money is spent on the correct type of bus.


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