Disappointment as free bus service - popular with the elderly - to be axed by Tesco

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MLAs are to meet Translink chiefs to discuss a community bus replacement as a free bus service, popular with the elderly, is to be axed by Tesco.

DUP representatives Maurice Bradley and Adrian McQuillan will hold talks with transport bosses in a bid to find an alternative to the service that is to stop later this month.

The free bus service, run independently by supermarket giant Tesco, has been in operation in the town for many years.

It gave shoppers direct transport from the store to areas across the town. However, the retailer revealed it is to cut the service at the end of November, blaming ‘dwindling passenger numbers.’

Both MLAs have had calls from constituents raising concerns about costs associated with transport when the bus is not operational.

“This service was very well used by local shoppers, particularly the elderly in our community,” said Mr Bradley.

“I understand that there are bus services run by Translink that service the Tesco store, but they are not direct services. This means that passengers would have to change at The Mall and board another bus, causing huge disruption for elderly passengers carrying shopping.”

Mr McQuillan commented: “From speaking to constituents, I know that many customers in the areas that the free bus serviced will be forced to use taxis due to the cancellation of the service.

“The fact that taxi fares have increased, in some cases, under the new legislation, will only be another burden to people who are under financial pressure.

“We have a meeting with Translink later this month to see if a more direct option can be looked at for bus passengers. We thank the depot manager for taking the time out to meet with us to discuss this issue.”

The bus service is set to continue until November 25.

A spokesperson for Tesco said the decision was made following a review of the service, adding: “We’re very grateful to all customers who shop with us and are very sorry for any inconvenience the end of this service may bring.”