Airporter says exponential passenger growth combined with continuing inaccess to bus pass scanning hardware used by Translink have forced it to withdraw concessionary fares for pensioners.
Jennifer McKeever, a director of the airport shuttle service, said that the firm, as a ‘stage carriage’ licence holder since 1997, has proudly offered concessionary travel for the past 20 years. However, from New Year’s Day, the Airporter reservation system will no longer support the concessionary fare scheme requirements as laid out by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI).
Under DFI regulations and data protection legislation private companies must not store data gleaned from passengers’ 60 plus SmartPasses or any other forms of identification, said Mrs. McKeever.
In practice, this means that every single transaction has to be inputted manually by Airporter staff and all of this has to be stringently audited. This has become simply too onerous for a private company and is eating up weeks upon weeks of man hours every year.
Mrs. McKeever explained: “What has changed is that in the past two years we’ve increased from carrying 100,000 passengers per year to carrying 150,000 passengers per year.
“Back when we started we were carrying 10,000 passengers per year. In real terms, as a private company, we’re not allowed to handle or store the information. We have to take that 15 or 16 digit number every single time.”
Mrs. McKeever said the company had repeatedly requested access to the automatic scanning hardware used on Translink bus driver consoles but to not avail.