Northern Ireland news

Vandals cause £53,000 damage to Glider buses and ticket machines

Vandals caused £53,000 damage to Glider buses and ticket machines. Picture by Hugh Russell

VANDALS have caused more than £50,000 worth of damage to Glider buses and ticket machines in the past year, new figures reveal.

Five per cent of passengers using the service have also been detected evading fares.

The statistics were revealed by the Department for Infrastructure in answer to a written assembly question by DUP MLA Robin Newton, who described the vandalism costs as "deeply disappointing".

He spoke of his "shock" that in the last financial year vandalism to the Glider bus vehicles was £25,000 and damage to the ticket machines was £28,000.

Among recent reports of vandalism to the Glider service include windows being smashed on two buses on the Falls Road after stones were thrown at the vehicles in March.

In one incident, a teenage girl who was a passenger, narrowly escaped injury when a window was broken.

Recent figures also reveal that since the Glider bus service was launched in Belfast in September 2018, its workers have endured 17 physical and 70 verbal attacks.

Mr Newton last night said he was shocked by the damage vandals have caused.

"That within 12 months vandals damaged the buses and ticket machines and cost the public £53,000 is shameful," he said.

"This figure does not include repairs to damaged Glider shelters. It's likely the same vandals who damage ticket machines also destroy shelters.

"However, the total cost of vandalism is unknown as repairing shelters is the responsibility of Clear Channel.

"They are contracted to maintain the shelters across the Glider network."

Mr Newton said the department "indicates the level of unpaid fare detection was approximately five per cent".

"While it is unacceptable that five passengers in every 100 are fare dodgers the actual fare evasion is, in all probability, much higher," he said,

"The Glider service is a valued public service, it has been embraced by the public and passenger numbers have exceeded expectations.

"The positive side of this rapid transport system is welcomed by users.

"However, as the planned expansion of the system is rolled out the minister (Nichola Mallon) cannot be self-congratulatory or complacent - she must, at this stage tackle, the vandalism and fare dodging."

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