Staying in Belfast on his first visit to Northern Ireland, CHRISTOPHER CARTER travels by public transport but is perplexed by some ticketing issues and the lack of forward views on coaches

Translink Ulsterbus National Trust-branded Optare Solo M9250 SR departing from the visitor centre on the short shuttle service to The Giant’s Causeway, to which most visitors walk using separate scenic trails along the top and bottom of the cliffs.

Translink – headquartered in Belfast – was established when the operating companies Citybus (now Metro), Ulsterbus and NI Railways came together in 1996 (retaining their legal status) to provide coordinated public transport and reduce car journeys.

The public corporation is one of Northern Ireland's largest employers, with 4,000 staff and a turnover of over £168m. It oversees a fleet of 1,400 buses, coaches and trains, operating 12,500 services a day and before the pandemic carried almost 85 million passengers annually, a record high.

Visit Belfast extols: “There are many fascinating and beautiful places to visit in Belfast and Northern Ireland, and making your way around using public transport couldn't be easier, you can reach every county in a couple of hours'. I need little encouragement to use public transport and tested the claim on my inaugural visit during the two month school summer holidays in 2022 – a good time as additional scenic tourist routes run in July and August.

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