‘One direct bus’ a day to hospital

Antrim Area Hospital. AT5-312JC
Antrim Area Hospital. AT5-312JC

Mid Ulster Council is seeking another meeting with Translink in relation to the bus service from the district to Antrim Area Hospital.

Just before Christmas Translink announced plans to “enhance routes” from Cookstown bus station to the hospital.

They said in a statement that in the Spring there would be a direct service each way leaving Cookstown at 10am and a return departing the hospital at 1.35pm.

“Connections are also available from Cookstown to the Antrim Town service 321e which calls to the Antrim Hospital 24 times a day,” a spokesperson for the company said.

Translink’s announcement followed a number of meetings with local political representatives over a number of years.

Ulster Unionist Councillor Trevor Wilson raised the matter again at the council’s monthly meeting on Thursday, and asked for another meeting with the company before the changes are introduced. While welcoming “any improvements”, he asked for clarification on a number of points.

“The only direct service is at 10.35am which is way outside visiting hours. At a previous meeting I had raised the issue of using the 212 in conjunction with the airport bus,” he said.

“However, the (Translink) response talks of inconvenience to 212 service users. What about the inconvenience to prospective users who would avail of the service if a connection was made with the hospital? Do they not count?

“I asked about consultation and if Translink had consulted with service users and the Northern Trust before drawing up this timetable. How will they market it?

“While any improvements are to be welcomed I still believe this will leave Antrim Area Hospital the only major hospital without an adequate service.”