Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced funding of around £30million for 38 new zero-emission battery electric buses for Foyle Metro in Derry.
This significant leap will see the city’s entire urban fleet, Foyle Metro, replaced with electric buses making it one of the first cities in the UK and Ireland to have a fully zero-emission bus fleet when all the vehicles go into passenger service in 2023.
The Minister made the announcement during a virtual address to the United Nations COP26 Global Climate Conference in Glasgow at an event hosted by Translink. They had been invited to share their experiences on the transformative journey to decarbonise Northern Ireland’s public transport.
Minister Mallon said: “I have an ambitious vision for a low carbon future and I am committed to delivering cleaner, greener, sustainable infrastructure. I have been clear that tackling the climate crisis is a priority for me and I am committed to building a better future where we make zero/low emission public transport accessible to communities across the North.
“My Department previously allocated funding of almost £74million for the purchase of 145 zero and low emission buses for the Translink fleet. I am delighted today, at COP26, to announce additional funding of £30million for the purchase of 38 new zero-emission battery electric buses for the Foyle Metro fleet which will allow Derry to have a fully zero-emission bus fleet when all the vehicles go into passenger service in 2023. Their arrival will herald a new cleaner and greener era in transport for the city and will make a positive impact on the climate emergency and help enhance air quality.
“These are the changes we need to see to help us tackle climate change and contribute to better health outcomes for all our population. I will continue to make positive steps to choose cleaner, greener travel.”
Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway said: “Today marks a further milestone in the journey to achieve our ambitious targets to make public transport carbon net zero by 2040 and go beyond to be climate positive by 2050. We have been delighted to make this announcement at COP26 and showcase the actions we are taking to tackle the climate emergency and drive positive change for a healthier and more sustainable transport for future generations to come.
“We will have over 100 zero emission buses in passenger service next spring making up over a third of our Metro fleet. Now this latest order will mean 100% of urban bus services within the city of Derry~Londonderry will be zero-emission not only making bus travel even more attractive and efficient but enhancing local air quality for everyone that lives, works and visits the city.
“There will be a mix of both single and double decker buses bringing enhanced capacity and with the latest passenger comfort features including WiFi, USB chargers and accessibility features like audio visual next stop announcements, this is great news for everyone.
“We would like to thank the Minister and the Department for their ongoing vision and support. We will continue to work with all stakeholders collaboratively to harness a shift in attitudes and behaviours towards more sustainable transport for a better future for everyone”, Chris concluded.
All the new zero-emission electric buses are due to be in service during 2023.
Return of St Patrick’s Parade Plans Welcomed by Councillors
Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Business and Culture Committee approved plans for the return of the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade, after a two year break due to the pandemic.
The proposals for the on street celebration, which will go ahead subject to Covid guidance, were brought before the committee at the Guildhall, and were warmly welcomed by members.
Council’s Head of Culture, Aeidin McCarter, told members it was the next stage in the phasing in of public events and that measures will be in place to ensure the safe delivery of the programme. It follows the successful delivery of the City’s annual Halloween celebrations, which were redesigned this year with a major focus on public safety.
The Committee heard that Council’s Festival and Events team would now progress plans in partnership with the North West Carnival Initiative as part of their Service Level Agreement with Council. The parade event will involve 500 participants from throughout the city’s neighbourhood areas, with an open call and targeted engagement programmes aimed at supporting local communities.
The Parade will happen in tandem with a major outdoor event already confirmed for the City taking place over a week in mid-March. About Us, which is created by 59 Productions Collective as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, will be a large-scale public event that takes audiences on a journey through 13.8 billion years of history from the Big Bang to the present day. The live show will transform the area in and around the city centre into a vast canvas featuring bespoke animations, cutting-edge projection mapping live shows and multimedia installations with animation, poetry, original music and live performance. More information can be found by visiting www.aboutus.earth
Welcoming the plans, Chair of the Business and Culture Committee, Councillor Conor Heaney, said it would be a major boost for local businesses. “If we look back at 2019, St Patrick’s was the first major event to be postponed due to the pandemic and I think people then began to realise the seriousness of the situation. The tragic events as they were unfolding around the world had reached our shores, and local businesses and Council responded swiftly to protect the public, with the postponement of the Spring Carnival and the closure of local venues. Looking back no one could have imagined that we would still be impacted by Covid19 as we near the end of 2021.
“Those same businesses will be delighted to see the return of our annual events programme, and to see two major events running in tandem throughout the week of St Patrick’s is an additional bonus and very positive news for the local economy. I am confident following the successful delivery of our Halloween celebrations last weekend that safety will be prioritised and that this event can be delivered safely and responsibly in an outdoor setting. I look more to hearing more about the programme as the details are finalised in the coming weeks and months.”
The Committee were reassured that About Us would complement the Spring Carnival events, and would not affect the main parade route through the City Centre. Members approved the allocation of £106,000 for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations, £30,000 of which will go towards festivities in Strabane.
Later in the meeting the Committee also approved the wider Festival and Events programme for 2022, which features several milestone events, including the Illuminating the Walled City project in February, the innovative Our Place in Space trail in April designed by Oliver Jeffers as part of UNBOXED, the City of Derry Jazz Festival in May, Summer Jamm in June and the Foyle Maritime Festival in July.
Kickstart IT Course to Give Students the Edge in the Software Industry
Local IT companies are partnering with Council and the North West Regional College to boost employment opportunities within the software industry through a special fast track course beginning in the New Year.
The Kickstart IT course, which is funded by the Department for the Economy, is a 16 week, industry led course aimed at students at HNC/D level and above. Participants will benefit from specialist training to enable them to successfully apply for IT software roles.
The full time course will begin on January 10th, and offers students a placement of at least four weeks with a local software company and a guaranteed job interview at the end with participating companies.
Head of Business with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Kevin O’Connor, said the course would offer students the chance to get the competitive edge in the local job market.
“We are delighted to be working with the North West Regional College and local IT companies to provide a specially tailored course which will that will help address a shortage of computer programmers in our region.
“The course has employability sessions integrated into it which aim to enhance the candidates’ personal development to give the best possible chance during the job application process.
“These include assistance with completing the application form, advice on improving interview skills, mock interview feedback and help with delivering presentations. These are skills that participants can use regardless of whether or not they choose to pursue a career in IT at the end of the course.”
Candidates must be fully available for the entire duration of the training schedule which will delivered through a blended approach of classroom and online learning. Successful students will gain qualifications in ISTQB Foundation Certificate in Software Testing, a City and Guilds Diploma for Software Developers and a City and Guilds Certificate of Unit Credit in relation to SQL module.
Lecturer in Computing at North West Regional College, Kevin McLaughlin, revealed that, despite the short nature of the course, students will learn a wide range of programming functions.
“This software fundamentals course will allow students with no background in IT to quickly learn a range of skills and programming languages that they can put into practise in the workplace,” he said.
“It includes Java, SQL and UX Fundamentals modules as well as software testing and design.
“The local software industry is a growing one, particularly in the current climate, and the successful completion of this course can leave candidates strongly equipped to successfully gain employment and thrive in it.”
For an application packs Contact Eileen McGrinder on 07595216249 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org Applications must be submitted by November 19th.