Outcry over loss of ‘lifeline’ Dungannon bus service to hospital

Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc
Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc

A vital bus service which ferries passengers from Dungannon to Craigavon Area Hospital is to be cancelled.

Politicians have called on Translink to reverse the decision which will particularly hit elderly people visiting friends and relatives.

The move is all the more alarming given plans to close Loane House and other services in South Tyrone Hospital and relocate them to the Craigavon site.

Deputy Mayor of Dungannon, Dominic Molloy strongly criticised the loss of the bus service, which will take effect from January 5.

“We were promised when they began closing down services at South Tyrone that a shuttle service would be put in place so that local people who do not have a car will still be able to access services and visit relatives”, he said.

“This move is very bad timing, given the planned closure of Loane House. Especially for elderly and disabled people, the bus service is a lifeline as it drops them off at the hospital doors, meaning they don’t have to use the costly car parking facilities.

“A lot of Dungannon people don’t have access to a car, especially newcomers to the area, and this will also hit them badly.”

Mid-Ulster MP Francie Molloy added his voice to the criticism. “Services like buses and town services - which were designed for elderly people to allow them to get about - shouldn’t be the first thing that is looked at, and unfortunately that seems to be the situation.”

A spokesperson for Translink blamed consistently low passenger numbers on the bus for the cancellation.

“These evening services were introduced as part of a Pilot Project operating in the Dungannon area, coordinated by the Department for Regional Development, to consider opportunities for better integration across all publicly funded passenger transport services”, she said.

“Following review of patronage it is unfortunately not feasible to continue the evening services.”