Bus and Rail Performance Results


Gordon Milligan

"we have already taken steps to improve 'on time' performance"
4th April 2014


Dear Colleagues,

I have just taken up the role of Group Chief Executive on an interim basis and am delighted to have the opportunity to lead such a professional and successful organisation.  I would like to thank everyone for their warm wishes and support.

One of the first things to report is the latest results of the independent Passenger’s Charter monitoring research which are published today.  These cover October to December 2013 and tell us how well we are delivering bus and rail services.  The headlines are that while operational performance of our local rail services continues to be very strong, we had real problems keeping buses running on time in Belfast. 

Our rail services continue to run on time and outperform comparable GB operators in many areas.  Customer satisfaction remains very high - this is clearly reflected in the growth of rail travel with an extra 2 million passenger journeys in the last 24 months.

But, our buses in Belfast are not running to time - 82% of Metro services arrived ‘on time’ against a target of 95%.  This is a concern because punctuality is the single most important thing for passengers.   Irrespective of the cause, we must look at ways to improve punctuality and we are working with Transport NI to review if congestion on some roads in greater Belfast, or other factors, impacted on the journey times of Metro and some Ulsterbus services.

Congestion is increasingly reported as an issue around Belfast; indeed some of this research took place in the first week of December as Christmas shopping started.   We can see that journeys on some of the main roads into the city centre were less predictable due to other factors such as construction work, occasional security alerts and changed traffic patterns (arising from the city centre bus priority – which has been very effective). 

We have already taken some steps and have seen punctuality improve from the start of 2014, adding more duties / buses to our schedules to make sure we are delivering our timetable reliably for customers.  We will also introduce a new Metro network timetable in late 2014, which will coincide with the introduction of new buses to the Metro fleet.

These changes represent additional cost to deliver the ‘same’ timetable, so we now need more passenger journeys to cover this cost.  New buses, a reliable timetable and of course the ‘fares freeze’ all contribute to that. 

Gordon Milligan

Interim Group Chief Executive