Latest: Anger as Cookstown bus station set to close after 70 years

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Cookstown bus depot, which has served passengers and transported them to and from the Mid Ulster town for almost 70 years, is set to close.

Staff were informeed this week that UUP Minister Danny Kennedy will shut the depot, with Translink services being operated instead from Magherafelt and Dungannon.

It will mean the loss of a vital customer service especially to the elderly, who had been using the depot to apply for free bus passes, and those customers wishing to buy tickets in advance.

Currently, the Cookstown bus depot is open to customers on Wednesday afternoons, but bus drivers had been dealing with passenger queries and helping to fill forms throughout the week.

It is believed that staff were informed of the decision on Wednesday morning. and now face being relocated to other depots.

Cookstown DUP MLA Ian McCrea expressed his disappointment at the decision.

“Hot on the heels of his decision to close the depot office just two years ago UUP Minister Kennedy is again launching an attack on Cookstown’s transport services. Rather than help and develop our transport network he seems intent on damaging it even more than he already has and I have written to him to request him to seriously rethink this course of action.”

He added: “I won’t let this depot close without a fight.”

Sinn Fein Councillor Cathal Mallaghan also warned that the decision was ‘a very retrogressive move’.

“A few years ago they permanently closed the ticket office and now they intend to minimise the public transport infrastructure in this significant retail hub until its almost none existent.

“What Translink should be focused on, is improving the network in and out of our town and villages so to make public transport more available to people and ensuring higher numbers using the service. This would in fact increase revenue for the company.

“Instead we see under tightening budgets the easier option of shutting down the station.

“I will be bringing a motion to council this month requesting that the Translink Chief executive and DRD Minister Danny Kennedy come and meet with councillors and officers to discuss alternatives to the proposed closure.”