Leading bus manufacturer Wrightbus has welcomed Northern Ireland Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd, who heard all about what the firm is doing to create jobs, help tackle the climate emergency through its greener travel options.
The Minister had the opportunity to tour the firm’s Ballymena factory to find out more about the technologies used in delivering zero-emission buses.
Translink, which operates bus and rail services across Northern Ireland, has placed orders for 332 buses from Wrightbus over the past three years, following investment from the Department of Infrastructure. At present, 158 are already in service.
These orders include 138 zero emission buses for use in both Belfast and Derry. The first 100 of these zero emission buses entered the Belfast Metro service in March and the remainder will all be in service by the end of June. The buses for Foyle Metro will start to enter service in Spring 2023.
Neil Collins, Managing Director of Wrightbus, said: “It was fantastic to welcome the Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd to Wrightbus headquarters and show him the world-leading work we’re doing to further enhance sustainable transport options.
“We are immensely proud that the buses we are manufacturing in Ballymena are helping to lead the way globally - and this investment from the Department demonstrates their commitment to providing more attractive and greener public transport options for service users.”
Minister O’Dowd said: “This is an exciting time for public transport as we continue the move towards decarbonising the Translink fleet to deliver greener transport to help tackle the climate crisis. The technologies developed by Wrightbus are at the forefront of this and I am delighted to have had the opportunity today to see their expertise at first-hand and meet with some of the staff delivering this important work.
“Many of the 100 new zero emission buses are already in passenger service across Belfast. When the remainder are delivered, Translink will have the fourth largest fleet across these islands of zero emission buses. In addition, Wrightbus is also working on 38 new zero-emission battery electric buses for Derry. When these are ready in Spring 2023 the entire Foyle Metro fleet will be zero-emission which will have a positive impact on air quality in the city.”
The Minister went on to say the Department is doing all it can to encourage people to use more sustainable transport options, including public transport, as well as encouraging people to walk and cycle. He said key to this was improving the public transport fleet, in order to make bus and rail travel as attractive an option as possible.
He added: “These new buses will offer the latest standards in comfort, quality and accessibility with in-seat USB chargers, WiFi and new accessibility features. With new contactless ticketing also being introduced, these developments will hopefully help more people to consider using public transport.”