Stewart Dickson MLA said: “This report is not about the privatisation of public transport in Northern Ireland. It is about providing appropriate competition and ensuring that Translink delivers the best possible public transport system for Northern Ireland.
“I welcome the support from the Regional Development Committee on this report, especially the recommendation to rebalance the budget between private and public transport. Considerably less is spent on public transport per person in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the United Kingdom, and all too often it is sliced more than other areas when cuts are made. That is not to take away from the welcome investment in buses, trains and Wi-Fi in recent years, but, if we want to see a major shift towards sustainable transport, we need a serious policy that is backed by serious investment.
“I support the Committee’s call for investment in appropriately qualified and experienced personnel. I also call on the Transport Holding Company to afford employees appropriate opportunities to feed back into the system ways in which their organisation could be run better. In recent days, I have spoken to drivers, other Translink personnel and their trade unions, who shared their frustrations with me. They know the routes, the systems and their jobs, yet rarely is their advice on how improvements could be made taken into account. By and large, it is ignored.
“The challenge is now to the Minister to take up the report. I encourage him to take the comments in the report that he may feel are critical and those that he may feel are positive and run with them. He should also work robustly with the Committee to deliver on the recommendations of a report that I genuinely believe has the potential to deliver a quality public transport system for everyone in Northern Ireland.”