A proposal for a shuttle-bus to the Downe Hospital from Downpatrick bus station by Councillor Cadogan Enright at last Tuesdays meeting of Down District Council met with cross-party support. Several councillors were unaware that there had been a failure by the Trust and Translink to follow through on a bus-stop outside the hospital entrance. The original plans for the hospital envisaged a shuttle-bus service, but this had not been delivered.
Councillor Enright said, “Dropping people off on the main road makes no sense, especially where wheelchairs have to be pushed up the long ramp to the hospital. It costs at least £3 to get a taxi from the Bus Station up to the hospital doors if you are unwell or wheel chair bound. There is actually the stump of a bus stop outside the hospital where people had thought the actual bus stop was going to be, as well as an all-weather awning for buses to pull up under near the front door.”
Addressing the council meeting, Cllr Enright said, “In addition to the Town Bus, we need the promised shuttle service serving the hospital to the front door so that anyone in Down District can be sure that they can easily use public transport to access the hospital. The Ardglass bus service should be able to pull up at the hospital as well, rather than just passing along the main road. I have discussed this matter with Translink Management in Newcastle and have been told that Translink costed a 15 minutes service for the Hospital two years ago but as no offer of finance was forthcoming from the Department of Health they were forced to implement this service via the Town bus in what I consider to be an unsatisfactory manner. Translink are reluctant to let the town service go up to the door of the hospital for fear it would cause delay to the town service”.
Cllr Enright was seconded by Liam Johnston of Sinn Fein and the motion was passed for council management to get the Trust and Translink working together again and find solutions to this problem. Cllr Johnston noted that the overwhelming number of patients arriving at the hospital at the moment come by car, and there to integrate the bus service with local public transport services.
“I have raised this issue with the community based Downe Community Health Committee who have promised me that they will also be making representations on this issue as it is vital that we integrate our key transport and health infrastructure to ensure long term sustainability of the new hospital,” concluded Green Party Cllr Cadogan Enright.