West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Proposed transport cuts could further isolate the Sperrins region

Published: 22 December, 2014

Declan Mc Aleer MLA and Cllr Dan Kelly pictured with Rural Development Minister Michelle O Neill.  Both representatives fear that cuts to rural transport will leave the Sperrins region further isolated.

Declan Mc Aleer MLA and Cllr Dan Kelly pictured with Rural Development Minister Michelle O Neill. Both representatives fear that cuts to rural transport will leave the Sperrins region further isolated.

West Tyrone MLA Declan Mc Aleer has called on DRD to ensure that rural bus services which operate through West Tyrone do not become a victim of the cost cutting measures proposed in the DRD draft budget. Mr Mc Aleer, who is a member of the Assembly's DRD and DARD committees said "The scale of reduction to Translink in 2015 - 2016 is estimated to be £15 million and the Department has stated that such a reduction would result in the cessation or reduction of services, focusing on the least profitable routes. "I have read with alarm the consultation document and I fear that the Rural Transport Funded services that operate locally are being earmarked for removal. For example, if the Sperrin Rambler that serves Plumbridge and Cranagh in the heart of the Sperrins was to be axed it would have a huge detrimental impact on the quality of many people's lives in one of the most rurally isolated parts of the north. "As a constituency representative, I know that the Sperrin Rambler is a lifeline for people in this area as it is the only bus service to Omagh, which is over twenty miles away. To remove this service would severely disadvantage the most vulnerable in our society, particularly those with restricted mobility, older people and those without access to a car. "I helped to draft the Sinn Féin submission to the consultation and along with Councillor Dan Kelly we have made a specific submission relating to rural routes. Furthermore, I intend to bring this issue directly to the attention of the Minister at the earliest opportunity. Councillor Kelly added "We have limited enough public transport in West Tyrone and any further cuts will further entrench social exclusion and limit economic development. I strongly encourage people likely to be affected by the removal of rural transport services to respond to the consultation by emailing their views to budgetconsultation@drdni.gov.uk. before 29th December".