Friday, 22 April 2016

Belfast Rapid Transit

Translink is the brand name of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (NITHCo), a public corporation in Northern Ireland which provides the public transport in the region.

NI Railways, Ulsterbus and Metro are all part of Translink, which is answerable to the Minister for Regional Development in Northern Ireland, Michelle McIlveen MLA.

I gather that the brand new, multi-million-pound Belfast Rapid Transit service is beginning in the next few years.

They have declared that passengers will be able to pay for their journeys in cash.

Frankly I think Translink needs to catch up with technological progress and enter the 21st century.

I'm very well aware that the transport system in Belfast is hardly comparable to that of the Metropolis, viz. Transport for London.

However, you cannot use cash to pay for your bus fare in London.

The ways to pay in London are as follows:
I have been present when a Belfast Metro bus has stopped at the Connswater Bridge Stop at Newtownards Road.

If there are several passengers, some pay in cash.

If they don't have the correct fare, it can take up to two or three minutes for the driver to deal with the transaction.

At the same time the bus is effectively blocking a vehicle lane and traffic flow is interrupted.

I am certainly not against Cash in principle; indeed it's essential for petty transactions every day.

However, my issue is one of efficiency.

If Translink, for whatever reason, refuses to embrace the cash-free method, at least an effective deterrent could be introduced.

For instance, if a passenger doesn't have the exact fare, no change will be given.

Does Translink employ a department to handle all the cash and coinage handled daily?

There's another saving for the taxpayer.


Anonymous said...

I noted when I was visiting in Sweden that all of their public buses do not even have a cash-payment facility. Apparently this is to guard against robberies of the driver. Sweden is, after all, one of the most sporadically populated countries with a great land mass.

I also recall I was travelling into Belfast city from Stormont area perhaps a year ago. As I stepped onto the Translink Metro service, I gave the driver a 10 pounds note – I had nothing smaller. He retorted: ‘What do you think this is: a f*****g bank?’ I always make a conscious reminder to myself not to tender a 10 pounds note in future.

Christopher Bellew said...

Your point is well made. I only disagree when you say that cash is necessary for petty transactions. Increasingly these petty transactions can be made "contactless". The problem for old folk, like me, is to remember which small shops accept this method of payment. At Barons Court the dry cleaner and butcher do - the corner shop, newsagent and chemist don't.
To digress, when I commuted to work every day I counted the number of "swipes" I made. It was a minimum of nine every day.
To further digress, I find it very hard to get hold of a fiver. London ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) like to hand out £20 notes. I can spoof them into giving me a tenner by requesting a sum indivisible by twenty but, at least in the machines I use in London, the fiver is extinct.
I suppose I should be thankful that my bank allows me to draw funds.

Timothy Belmont said...

Christopher, fivers are increasingly hard to get and I entirely agree that more ought to be in circulation.

Mind you, I invariably purchase so-called smart cards for transport, at home and abroad, because it saves me the bother of finding the fares or even the risk of having too large a banknote, thereby risking refusal.

Like you I posses quite a handsome wallet, made over 30 years ago by Cartier. We must have cash for these accessories!