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Budget squeeze on public transport

Words: Roger Milne

Local bus services in cities and towns across Northern Ireland could be cut drastically under budget proposals being considered.

Armagh city and 13 towns could lose their urban services completely in the proposed cost-cutting exercise. 

In a statement bus and rail operator Translink said it was facing a potential cut in government funding of £15 million.

The cuts to bus and rail services as reported in the local media are draft proposals, stressed a spokesperson.

In total, the Department of Regional Development (DRD) has been ordered to make savings of more than £65 million.

On top of the complete loss of local services in Armagh and 13 towns across Northern Ireland, services could be cut in seven other towns under the proposals. Antrim, Ballymena, Bangor, Dungannon, Lurgan, Portadown and Newry would be affected.

There are also plans to shelve the overnight bus services from Belfast to Dublin airport.

Transport minister Danny Kennedy said: "DRD is facing cuts of around £65 million to its budget for 2015/16 and as a result there could be reductions of some £15 million in the total departmental funding to Translink.

"The impacts of the reduction on my budget have not been agreed at this stage, however, the financial constraints are so great that there will certainly be very difficult decisions ahead."

Image courtesy of Robert Young