Question Time: Regional Development Monday 11 January 2016

Regional Development Minister, Michelle McIlveen, provided an update on proposals for a new Translink integrated ticketing system during today’s Question Time. The project aims to replace Translink’s current ticketing equipment, which has become outdated, and to update existing concessionary and Translink smart cards to align with new technology, particularly online top-ups. It also aims to exploit mobile technology for the payment of fares and to facilitate off-bus ticketing on Belfast Rapid Transit. This should improve bus boarding times, reduce the use of cash, improve data and communication channels and improve customer choice. The procurement phase of the project started in 2015 and the invite to tender took place in December 2015, but it will be 2018 before the roll-out of initial developments. Full implementation, including the replacement of ticketing equipment and complete introduction of the new system could run in to the next decade.

During topical questions, the Minister discussed the Department’s response to the aftermath of recent flooding. The Minister moved to “pay tribute to the work of all the staff who have been involved in trying to alleviate some of the pain that has been felt by those who have been left stranded and who are also, I am sure, very weary after what has been a long process, given the rainfall that we have had and the levels that did not ever seem to be going down.” The “key priority has always been to make sure that roads are safe and, where possible, kept open. We will be immediately looking at remedial work that needs to be carried out on the roads that have been flooded, and we will be able to get a better assessment of that once the water has subsided.” As well as carrying out key repairs the Minister will also be looking to identify where structural maintenance is required to be better prepared for future flooding.

During Question Time the Minister also answered questions on the redevelopment of the A6, financial penalties for environmental pollution, the clearance of roadside gullies and coastal erosion.