SDLP refutes claims of community transport “illegal practice”

May 18, 2015

Claims that the Department of Regional Development’s (DRD) Community Transport service is operating illegal by discriminating against private operators have been strongly refuted by the SDLP.

The party’s spokesperson on regional development, Mr John Dallat, was reacting to claims made by a caller to the BBC Talkback programme on 12th May.  During the course of the interview, the caller named Gerald twice claimed that Community Transport, which is subsidized by the DRD, is operating unfairly against private operators, claiming this practice to be illegal.

In a strongly worded statement, Mr Dallat hit back at the claims, describing them as “ill-informed”

“This claim is patently untrue,” Mr Dallat said.  “Community Transport is the most closely scrutinised element of public transport which must account for every penny of public money they receive.  Not a single penny of government subsidy goes towards their group operations, which the caller was claiming was illegal and unfair to private operators.

“The public need to be aware that there is a serious threat hanging over the future of Community Transport and ill-informed claims such as the one to the BBC Talkback Programme is not helpful at a time when we must fight to save this important service, which is critical to many people in our community who rely on it for many reasons.

“The North needs an integrated public transport service which addresses the needs of people rather than those who operate the services, private or public. This will only happen when the Department of Regional Development begins a process of listening to its users and Translink begins appointing directors to its Holding Company who have the expertise, experience and time to develop bus and train services, which will drive us towards the next generation of public transport.  When that time comes Community Transport will be a critical element of that change.”