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Weekly Updates

Chief Executive Chris Conway's weekly update to employees

Monday 24 August 2020

With restrictions placed on both indoor and outdoor gatherings last week, it has been another reminder to us all to continue to maintain and communicate our back to basics messages, such as washing your hands regularly and maintaining social distancing.  You can also see the additional measures in place in employee areas and offices on our Go Together Safely video on the employee app.  I was pleased to see that our recent survey has also shown that over 80% of our passengers are wearing face coverings on our services.

We all continue to move forward and over the coming weeks our children will return to school with many starting back today, hopefully this will bring some routine back to family life. Last week, we announced our plans to enable children to return to school safely using public transport.  We have worked in partnership with the Education Authority (EA), and the new guidance released for parents and carers sets out what steps we have taken to safeguard young people when they travel, and actions they can take to protect themselves and others.  

We know this will be an unsettling time for parents and young people, and for many it may be their first time back on public transport.  Safety is always our top priority and our plans will highlight the range of safety measures now on board and in stations for everyone’s protection.  I know there has been extensive work done over recent weeks to plan for this and we will need to monitor services closely while schools settle into a pattern.  It is also important that we reach out to guide and reassure pupils in relation to the safety advice such as using face coverings, hand hygiene and using touch free ticketing. You can find full details on back to school travel arrangements at www.translink.co.uk/schoolservices.  

The NI Executive recently announced some additional funding for Translink’s public transport services and we are appreciative of this support, however with passenger numbers still low we will need to continue to maintain a strong focus on operational costs. 

We are also committed to supporting the economy by continuing to progress capital projects, where this can be done safely.As part of the Belfast Transport Hub project, the team have been working on developing the Arts and Heritage programme to develop the public space in and around the new Hub.  They also held a webinar to offer local communities and businesses practical information and advice in preparation for the re-opening of communities and businesses after lockdown, based on our own social distancing measures in stations.

It has been great to see the progress continuing at the North West Transport Hub as we move towards completion later this year.  The first ever hydrogen-powered double decker buses in Ireland are also well underway at Wrightbus, with three new vehicles due before the end of 2020.  These vehicles represent a major step to de-carbonise Northern Ireland’s public transport to zero emissions by 2040.

Our colleagues continue to go the extra mile to help ensure that those who need to get to work can do so safely and putting the safety of our communities at the forefront of everything that we do.  Our colleagues in Omagh and Magherafelt bus depots recently supported Department for Infrastructure workers complete essential surface works by providing a transport solution to enable them to socially distance on their way to and from the jobs, enabling vital work to be carried out.

I’d like to thank our friends at the 'NI Big Community Sew' who have provided wonderful face-coverings for both passengers and colleagues to help support our charity partner Cancer Focus NI.  For more details about where to get your own hand-made facemask and support our charity partner, see the Spirit App.

Our wellbeing focus for this month is ‘Reach out for Help’.  This focuses on issues that are known to have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including Alcohol, Drugs, Gambling and Domestic Abuse.  We now have a new e-learning module to help provide further information about these issues and the support services and helplines available for those who are ready to 'reach out for help'.  You can access this on the employee Learning Platform, along with many other wellbeing resources and toolkits.

Thank you and let’s go safely together.

Chris Conway - Group Chief Executive

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