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Murphy - Public Transport must be responsive to local and regional needs

28 October, 2009 - by Westminster

Transport Minister Conor Murphy today said he wants to make public transport people’s first choice and not last resort.

He was delivering the keynote address at a transport seminar “Exploring the future of public transport”, in the Grand Opera House, Belfast.

The Minister said: “Public transport must be responsive to local travel needs, to regional needs and to the need for travel across the island of Ireland and beyond. I am committed to providing a modern, sustainable, safe public transportation system which benefits society, the economy and the environment, and which actively contributes to social inclusion and improving the quality of life.

“In recent times we have sought through the Regional Transportation Strategy to address years of underinvestment. The Regional Transportation Strategy is now under review. This will in future provide the strategic direction for transportation here, taking account of economic and environmental impacts and the impact on society more generally.

“Through continued investment in public transport services, NIR, Ulsterbus and Metro now deliver over 79 million passenger journeys each year across the bus and rail network – a rise of 7 million in the last four years and evidence that more people are choosing public transport.

“While there have been substantial improvements in public transport, I think we all recognise the need for this to be a continuous process. Whilst investment will be important in that process we also need to ensure that we have in place the best systems and structures to enable us to build on our achievements.

“For some time now officials from my Department have been working closely with key stakeholders in the public transport sector, many of whom are with us today. This work has focused on developing proposals which will enable changes to be made to existing structures to reflect good practice and the lessons learned in public transport delivery in other regions, while also meeting the requirements of new European Union legislation.

“Our public transport legislation is outdated – it is over 40 years since the last major revision. I am, therefore, proposing new arrangements to provide greater clarity about roles and responsibilities in the transport sector. As a result of the reforms there will also be a greater focus on identifying the needs of users and on service performance.

“My Department will shortly be entering into a three-month period of public consultation on proposals for the reform of public transport provision. I look forward to engaging with stakeholders and to put in place structures which will ensure the provision of a customer-focused, high quality integrated public transport system.”

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