Serious concerns have been raised over the bus service currently operating between Newry and Dublin.
Queuing and booking arrangements have aslo been cited as causing problems for users.
And, with the service between Newry and Dublin City and Dublin Airport described as “essential”, a meeting has now taken place to discuss various issues directly with senior Translink figures.
Newry and Armagh SDLP MLA Justin McNulty and Newry Councillor Gary Stokes called for face-to-face discussions to air grievances over an “extremely popular” but often unavailable service.
Foremost among these was the fact that the X1 is “often full” by the time the bus arrives in Newry, leaving many passengers stranded or forced to seek alternative transport.
Councillor Stokes explained: “In recent months there have been numerous occasions both day and night where the bus didn’t show up, again because it was full and had no room for passengers. This is not good enough and, especially if you’re standing in Newry and know you have a flight to catch in Dublin.”
Describing a meeting this week with Translink as “positive and constructive”, the councillor added: “We reiterated the concerns people had raised with us regarding the X1 service. People have been left deeply frustrated, they have turned up in plenty of time for the bus and then the bus does not turn up, or if it does it’s full and cannot accommodate them.
“As a result of our lobbying, Translink have now confirmed they are seeking a more centralised booking service for all X1 services and it is hoped this will be operational within six months.
“In addition to this they have also confirmed they are seeking to build a business case for a dedicated service between Newry and Dublin.
“I have undertaken to seek the support from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council for this business case.”
MLA Justin McNulty also welcomed progress made.
He said: “Public transport services between Newry and Dublin are an important service, both by bus and by train. We need both bus and rail services to be integrated and that’s why we have been lobbying so hard for improved services in both forms.
“The existing service is very well used and is at the right frequency, however the problem at this point in time is about continuity and reliability of the service. Whilst it’s great to see the service so well used, that’s not much help if you’re standing in the cold in Newry and either the bus doesn’t show or it arrives full and cannot take any more passengers.
“We are delighted with the progress made and will continue to work with Translink to ensure that dedicated bus service between Newry and Dublin becomes a reality.
“We have also sought improvements in the queuing systems for passengers waiting at Dublin Airport and we hope progress can be made on this issue also. All in all, it was a positive meeting with much progress made.”