East Belfast Alliance Assembly Member, Cllr Naomi Long MLA, has is seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the change to services along the lower Newtownards Road. From Monday, in order to travel from the lower Newtownards Road to locations along the Upper Newtownards Road passengers will either have to walk to the Albertbridge Road or change buses at Holywood Arches.
Naomi Long, Alliance Education and Regional Development Spokesperson, said, “It seems ridiculous that in order to travel along the full length of the Newtownards Road, from Lower to Upper, requires a change of bus. To get from Dee Street or Pitt Place to say North Road or Ballyhackamore on a single bus, you would have to first walk onto the Albertbridge Road or to the Holywood Arches, which is a considerable distance for an elderly person or someone with restricted mobility.
“In fact, even before these changes I had written to Translink on15th November last year about improving service, particularly for elderly people in the lower Newtownards Road area, whose Easibus link with Connswater was removed during redevelopment, when passenger numbers fell.
“I finally received a reply dated 20th December 2004, assuring me that they would contact me in the New Year to arrange a meeting. Eventually, I had to ring them on 31st January 2005 to ask if they were intending to have the meeting or not. It is clear, therefore, that Translink were fully aware of the difficulties experienced by elderly and disabled people in the lower Newtownards Road area, who simply cannot walk to Connswater or the Arches when they took this decision.
“Translink talk a lot about consultation, but their own staff on the help desk and their drivers, today and yesterday, appear to be completely confused about where the buses are going as of Monday morning, so how could any member of the public or elected representative be expected to decipher the new Metro service and make sensible representations about it?”