The Get Home Safe Bus has been suspended, Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) have announced.
The bus service ran from midnight each Saturday night, leaving from William St in Lurgan and carrying passengers to their homes across the town, rural areas, and as far as Craigavon and Portadown.
The aim was to ensure that those enjoying an evening out in Lurgan could reach their homes safely, and to reduce the amount of incidents arising when crowds spill into the town centre at the weekends.
Last Saturday marked the last journey for the Get Home Safe Bus before the suspension - Alderman Robert Smith, who is chairman of the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon PCSP, explained the move:
“The ‘Get Home Safe’ bus service, which is provided by the local PCSP, has been suspended until further notice. This is due to circumstances beyond the control of PCSPs. The central funding provided by the Department of Justice and the NIPB to PCSPs is currently under review, and consequently all PCSPs have been advised to only continue to fund inescapable or contractual commitments.
“Unfortunately this impacts on the ability to continue to provide the ‘Get Home Safe’ service during this period. “The PCSP will continue to work in partnership with the police to monitor and review the situation in light of the suspension of the service.”
One woman, who regularly used the weekend bus service, explained: “I live outside Lurgan and no taxis ever want to go out my way. This bus was so handy and saved me standing about until 3am.”
The PCSP launched the Get Home Safe scheme in February 2007, when funds allowed for three buses to run across the area. However, in 2011, after restrictions were placed on the amount of funding available, these were reduced to just one bus - but the service continued to run effectively. Between 2007 and the 2013, almost 60,000 people had reached home safely because of the service.