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Mal O’Hara warns that controversial Belfast taxi plan undermines public transport policies

Monday March 12 2018

Green Party rep Mal O’Hara says the Department of Infrastructure’s plan to allow taxis into bus lanes for a year will erode hard-won public transport policies.

The North Belfast rep said he is astonished that the Department is launching the experimental scheme after having already carried out a 12-week experiment last year.

“This plan will undermine the Belfast Rapid Transit scheme before it has even started,” Mr O’Hara said.

“It makes a mockery of the £90 million invested in BRT public transport infrastructure, which was designed and developed specifically to give priority to a rapid, high frequency bus service.

“It makes absolutely no economic sense to commit that amount of funding into a scheme and then abandon it.  In fact, this is essentially a waste of £90 million pounds of critical investment in our public transport network.

“I find it hard to understand why the Department feels the need to pander to the taxi lobby in this way after having already completed a 12-week experiment last year which left cyclists using the bus lanes feeling much less safe.

“The Department’s description of the previous experiment as ‘inconclusive’ smacks of repeating the same test until you get the result you want.

“This erosion of public transport policy is a direct attack on the 40% of people in Belfast who do not have access to a car, who rely on bikes or buses to traverse the city and get from A to B in a safe and efficient manner.  We need to reframe our thinking into one that gives cyclists and public transport users the same rights and privileges which are currently enjoyed by those who drive.

“By eroding the public transport network, we are making it especially difficult for people who want to use public transport, but are unable to do so because cars dominate our roads and our lives.

“More than 500 people needlessly die in Northern Ireland every year due to air-pollution related diseases, and the bulk of that pollution comes from cars.

“Unless we make some determined inroads to reduce the sheer number of journeys made by car, that number will rise.  We are one of the most congested cities in Europe and unless we do something about this by continuing to improve our public transport network, more people will die as a direct consequence of exposure to vehicle fumes.”

ENDS

Media Contact: Linda Stewart

028 9052 1141
07594 391264
07761 254553

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