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Watchdog blasts DRD over public transport performance

Words: Roger Milne

The Northern Ireland Audit Office has criticised the Department for Regional Development (DRD) over its slow progress in shifting the balance of funding from roads to public transport.

The public spending watchdog has highlighted that the staff and resources allocated to roads in the DRD’s relatively new division Transport NI greatly outnumber the staff and resources allocated to public transport.

The audit office also noted “a paucity of professional public transport skills” available within DRD.

More than £1 billion was spent on buses and trains in Northern Ireland during the first decade of this century, but most people still preferred the car, the audit office pointed out.

Comptroller and Auditor General Kieran Donnelly said: "Public transport has enjoyed substantial investment of £1.1 billion in the first decade of this century.

"However, passenger numbers have not increased significantly and the car remains the dominant mode of transport.

“DRD needs to do more to attract people onto public transport and make it their choice mode of travel.”