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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: reduction of public transport services in response to the COVID-19 epidemic

A decrease in the level of public transport provision in Northern Ireland was announced starting Monday.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon approved the changes in response to the current COVID-19 crisis.

From Monday 23 March, Translink Bus Services (Ulsterbus, Metro and Glider) will manage a reduced service timetable and NI Railways will operate a Saturday timetable.

Translink is also reducing the timetables for cross-border bus services and corporate rail services.

The minister confirmed that the changes were introduced in response to the latest government advice to avoid all non-essential travel and social distances.

Minister Mallon said: “These measures will have a dramatic impact on our public transport network, but it is the right step to take, given the government’s clear advice to avoid all non-essential travel and social estrangement and its effectiveness in fight against COVID -19 Advice that we must all follow.

“The changes to the timetables will ensure that we can continue to provide coverage for public transport throughout Northern Ireland, while responding to the impact of reduced demand.

“The public should be insured for those who need to travel, public transport will continue to function and we will continue to ensure that everyone who uses public transport can do it safely, in line with the guidelines on social distancing.

“Keeping communities across the North safe at this very worrying time is my priority and I want to reassure the public that my Department is doing everything possible to ensure that essential services and connections are maintained for those who use and rely on our infrastructure network.

“I will keep the public transportation situation under constant scrutiny in line with government public health advice.”

Chris Conway, managing director of the Translink group, said: “We are committed to keeping public transport services at a level that will allow people to make essential trips.

“The reduced service hours will ensure that the geographical coverage of the network is protected with reduced frequency on some services, which is more in line with what is currently needed, given the recent health advice and the number of people who now work from home.

“We have improved our cleaning regimes and are minimizing contacts between staff and customers to ensure the safety of everyone involved, including encouraging the purchase of prepaid tickets such as m-links or the use of payments contactless at stations, on board trains and at Glider TVMs.

“We are urging our staff and the public to follow the advice provided by the public health agency, including applying social distancing, while using our services to ensure that we are all safe and limiting the spread of the virus.

“We would like to encourage our customers to familiarize themselves with any changes to their specific services in case they have to adapt their normal travel plans.

Full details of the new timetables are available on the Translink website and travel planner.

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