Alliance Leader David Ford has welcomed the news that Translink expects to submit a planning application for the proposed Templepatrick park and ride scheme before the end of this year.
David Ford said: “I am pleased to have recently been told by Translink of continuing progress on the scheme to build a new railway and bus station with associated car parking at Ballymartin, beside the M2 at Templepatrick. The site was purchased last year. Now detailed plans are in preparation and an application for planning permission is expected to be made within months.
“It is several years since I first suggested to Translink that, instead of reopening the old railway station in Templepatrick village, a new station beside the M2 would attract more passengers.
“Park and ride schemes are already popular at Dunsilly on the M2 and at the Templepatrick roundabout. The site at Ballymartin will allow the integration of bus and rail services and should attract commuters from a wide area around Templepatrick, Ballyclare and Doagh. There will also be a significant incentive for drivers from areas like Ballymena and Coleraine to leave the M2 and avoid the congestion at Sandyknowes.
“This will benefit people from Newtownabbey, especially through the reduction of pollution and congestion in the Glengormley area.
“I hope to meet Translink officials again in the near future to examine some of the details of the scheme. I am also calling on the Department of Regional Development to ensure that appropriate funds are made available and that other measures are introduced to support this project.
“For example, the relatively cheap marking of the hard shoulder on the M2 between Templepatrick and Sandyknowes as a shared use bus lane — the same as is already in place for a short way from Sandyknowes towards Greencastle — would speed up Goldliner and air buses past the morning jams. If there was bus priority at Sandyknowes roundabout the benefit would be even greater.
“At present it seems as if Translink is kept at arms length by a Department which is still in thrall to road building. It is time for some joined up thinking. The proposed new Templepatrick interchange must be the catalyst to break the current inertia.”