East Belfast Alliance Assembly Member, Cllr Naomi Long and Castlereagh Councillor, Michael Long, met with senior Translink officials yesterday, after they were inundated with complaints regarding the introduction of the new Metro Bus Service.
High on their list of concerns was the removal of the No 34 service from Mount Merrion via the Cregagh Road after the recent reinstatement of a separate service via the Ormeau Road, following protracted discussions and meetings with the Alliance team and local people.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Naomi Long, Alliance Education and Regional Development Spokesperson, said, “I arranged this urgent meeting after Alliance Councillors in the area received an unprecedented number of complaints from people right across East Belfast – from Tullycarnet, Braniel, Newtownards Road, Cregagh, Wynchchurch and many others – whose regular service has been altered significantly or withdrawn completely.
“I have also been in contact with the principals of a number of local schools, many of whose pupils travel on regular services, rather than dedicated school buses, and have also been badly affected by the change in service and the lack of useful information which preceded it. We want Translink to listen to the feedback we have been getting and to be responsive to people’s concerns.”
Cllr Michael Long, who has organised a petition in protest at the removal of the No 34 Mount Merrion service via Cregagh Road, stated: “Alliance has tried to work with Translink over the last number of years to improve services in the area and encourage people to use public transport. We lobbied long and hard to get a limited service to cover the Mount Merrion/Ormeau Road link re-established. In all the discussions, not once was it even mentioned that half-hourly service via Cregagh Road to the City Centre was to be axed.
“The removal of this service has seriously disadvantaged many people, especially older people in the Cregagh/Wynchurch/Rosetta area, who have been cut off from their Post Office, doctor’s and dental surgeries, and the shops at Cregagh Road and Woodstock. People are angry at the removal of the service and the way it has been handled. They want to be able to access both the Cregagh and Ormeau roads, not just one or the other.
“Alliance distributed a “post-back” petition letter in the area late last week, and already we have received over 220 signatures in just 5 days, clearly showing the strength of feeling of residents on this issue. We will be passing the complete petition to both Translink and the General Consumer Council in due course. Our message to Translink was clear – the demand for better bus services is there, and they need to reconsider this short-sighted decision.”