Fears that Ballyclare Bus Station is set to close are unfounded, according to elected representatives who have met with Translink bosses.
Rumours had been rife on social media that the Ballyclare depot was set to close, with all services and drivers being transferred to Larne.
However, following a meeting between local representatives and Translink’s North Eastern Area Manager Arthur Hamilton, UUP Councillor Vera McWilliam reassured the public that there would be no cut in services and that the station would be staying open while bus services moved to Larne.
“We had heard rumours that the station was going to be closed but it was all scare mongering,” revealed Vera.
“The drivers will have to go to Larne to save money and we are working with the situation.
“I have been working on this issue with Councillor Jim Bingham and this move is only operational.
“I’m not worried that other services will be moved out of the town.”
Cllr McWilliam said that there would be an upgrade to the express bus service which would stop in fewer locations to create a faster service.
She said that the changes are expected to come in after September, at Halloween or Christmas.
South Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA Adrian Cochrane-Watson welcomed news that the Ballyclare station will continue to serve as the passenger hub for Ballyclare.
“This is great news for Ballyclare,” he stated.
“For rural towns like Ballyclare transport is all-important and speculation in the town had many worried that the station was due to close taking bus services with it.
“Thankfully we have learned that the station will continue to serve as the bus terminus for the town and that services will be restructured rather than removed.
“The South Antrim UUP team have always called for greater transport provision but equally we are aware that budgets are tight and services are being slimmed down to fall within those budgets.
“Translink and the Department for Regional Development should be praised for implementing their budget whilst minimising impact. Given the circumstances, I think this is a good result for Ballyclare,” he concluded.
MLA Paul Girvan and Councillor Mandy Girvan also met with Mr Hamilton and Translink’s Service Delivery Manager Sam Todd.
Welcoming the clarification, Mr Girvan stated: “The message that was evident from the meeting was that Ballyclare Bus Station is not closing and will remain open, and the use of the facility will still remain.
“The staff and buses will move to the Larne depot to utilise their facilities, but there will be no job losses, and management will endeavour to liaise with employees with regards to logistical issues.
“There will be some limited changes to the schedule but these are still under consideration, and management gave an undertaking today to look at the possibility of providing an additional park and ride facility, at the Ballyclare site.”
During the meeting, Mr Girvan said he highlighted the bus service from Larne through Ballynure, and the new Park and Ride facility at Ballymartin.
The current buses which run through Ballynure are to be maintained, and the new park and ride facility will open to the public from September 1 2015.
The park and ride facility will operate in conjunction with the Airport 300 Service.
Mr Girvan concluded: “Today was a very worthwhile meeting and it was a good opportunity to discuss several important issues which affect the constituents of South Antrim, and we intend to keep a watching brief in relation to all these matters, to ensure there is not a negative impact on the residents of the Ballyclare area, and also the greater South Antrim constituency.
A Translink spokesperson stated: “Ballyclare Bus Station will remain open as a passenger facility when the planned service changes come into effect in Autumn 2015.”