Translink is to review its service to Antrim Area Hospital from the Mid Ulster area following complaints of a “poor connection” from patients and visitors.
Ulster Unionist Councillor George Shiels told the Mail he has raised with officials what he described as “the inadequate bus connections for those living in Mid Ulster attending the hospital.”
Translink stressed it is continually monitoring and reviewing its services and is happy to engage with politicians to discuss local travel requirements. “The express bus, the 212, has been a great boon to travellers making their way from Belfast to Londonderry and vice versa,” said Mr Shiels.
“Yet there is no linkage between the Antrim Hospital and the service, despite the fact that the bus thunders down the motorway within sight of the hospital.
“The express service stops at park and ride facilities at Dungiven, Maghera, Castledawson and Toomebridge, so surely one more stop won’t inconvenience other travellers on the bus to any great extent.”
The Magherafelt Town councillor said there is ample space at the hospital to create a turn around area within the car park.
“If my memory serves me well, I think the landscaping of the hospital grounds cost well in access of £1m so it is nothing short of a scandal that a turning area wasn’t included at the time.”
He pointed out that there is a cancer speciality unit within the hospital complex.
“Consultants from the Belfast City Hospital Cancer Unit travel down to Laurel House, the cancer speciality unit within the Antrim Hospital, yet it is ironic that patients travelling for treatment increasingly opt to attend the Belfast Hospital because of the adequate bus linkage rather than travel by a tortuous route to Antrim Area Hospital.”
A Translink spokesperson said they recently had a useful engagement with local representatives, and are considering the issues raised regarding the bus services to Antrim Area Hospital.
“Customers are currently advised to use Service 110 operating between Magherafelt and Belfast with a connection in Antrim required on Town Service 321E travelling to and from the hospital,” said the spokesperson.
“We look forward to further discussion on this matter so that we can help meet the needs of local people while ensuring we operate our business in a sustainable and efficient manner.”