Belfast Telegraph

Chris Conway: How we will make transport better for new generation of ‘smartmovers’

By Chris Conway

In recent years we have started to transform our public transport network by putting our customers at the heart of everything we do.

As a result, we have seen continued growth, with journeys on Metro and Goldline services the highest ever recorded, and NI Railways journeys were the highest in its 50-year history.

This year we are on target to top this, which will mean the third consecutive year fare-paying passengers have increased. This is a clear demonstration of the growing desire for using the bus and train as a better way to travel.

It is worth noting that the DfI Travel Survey statistics measure all journeys, including those where public transport would not be practical or cost effective or those that are very short.

When we examine the data in more detail there is a significant increase in urban areas, for example 11% of journeys are made by public transport in Belfast and 9% of longer journeys of 10-25 miles are also made on public transport. These are the areas where we have been investing, such as the introduction of Glider in Belfast, with numbers up by over 25% since it started.

Also, rail, Ulsterbus, Goldline and Urby services operating to and from Belfast continue to grow in popularity.

We continue to work hard to deliver high quality bus and train services with great customer care and good value fares and these factors are all helping deliver our vision to be your first choice for travel in Northern Ireland.

The passenger growth we have secured is strong evidence that investing in our public transport infrastructure is right for our customers and is delivering on the ambition of the NI Executive draft Programme for Government to increase the use of public transport. However, sustained investment is necessary if we want to continue to grow public transport.

There are many exciting projects under way, such as new ticketing that will transform how we buy our travel, new transport hubs in Belfast and Derry~Londonderry, and a new station in Portrush. We also have other park and ride schemes under way. We know we are only at the start of our journey, we believe more people are becoming 'smarter' travellers on their daily commute.

This new 'smartmover generation' is choosing to take the bus and train for a more active and healthier society and we will continue to focus on delivering attractive services to encourage even more people to make the switch to public transport.

Chris Conway is Translink Group Chief Executive

Belfast Telegraph

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