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.
4C UR Future Holds Successful LIVE Careers Event For Students In Derry And Strabane
The 4C UR Future LIVE event was held in Foyle Arena on Friday, June 24.
The industry-led social enterprise, 4C UR Future, aims to empower young people to make well-informed decisions about their education and future career pathways, with the LIVE event welcoming pupils from Holy Cross College, Oakgrove Integrated College, St Brigid’s College, St Joseph’s Boys’ School, and Thornhill College.
Founded by engineer and business leader, Rose Mary Stalker, 4C UR Future works with over 80 local employers to create an exciting, action-packed day that enables students to identify their strengths and interests, relative to those that are in demand by different sectors.
“4C UR Future LIVE was designed from the very beginning to be at-scale and inclusive, with all sectors represented and as many businesses as possible taking part, so that as many Year 9s as possible get the chance to participate and to shine.
“We’re encouraging young people, before they make their GCSE choices, to look at the vast range of companies working in Northern Ireland today, look at the wide range of sectors, and by playing games explore their own strengths and attributes.”
Councillor Sandra Duffy, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, was among those who visited the event and had an opportunity to find out about some of the employability opportunities that exist.
The 4C UR Future LIVE events are a departure from typical employment and careers seminars and instead embrace a more interactive, hands-on approach. Pupils have the opportunity to participate in an exciting range of skills games and work-based activities, each of which is co-designed with and facilitated by local employers.
Chief Executive of Manufacturing NI, Stephen Kelly, also stressed the importance of giving young people the opportunity to explore the world of work, learn more about their skills, and engage with employers.
“I am really inspired if I’m honest, this has been a really powerful experience for me as somebody who represents our manufacturing community.
“To see children deeply engaged in the activities that they are asked to participate in, none of them are wandering about, none of them are running off to try and amuse themselves, they’re all really stuck into the tasks that are there in front of them.”
Apart from giving pupils a chance to engage, 4C UR Future is helping to bridge the disconnect between schools and the world of work, by ensuring that teachers, as well as pupils, understand that the employers who have signed up to take part are there to support, assist, and build a powerful relationship for the future.
Mr Kelly explained: “Manufacturers, as well as everybody in business, are really struggling to get the people they need to meet the orders that they’ve managed to secure. If we’re going to have a chance to reach the kind of economic ambition that we have, then we need great people coming to our businesses at all levels.
“We would encourage not just the manufacturers that are already here but other manufacturers across Northern Ireland to sit alongside 4C UR Future, to get engaged with this project, and to really begin to inspire that next generation of workers and young people to come through into their businesses.”
The aim of the LIVE events is to provide a young person-centred approach to careers advice, reach pupils at the right age, and raise their awareness to help them navigate the complex careers landscape.
That is the message 4C UR Future Managing Director, Rachel Doherty, is keen to get across.
“Through 4C UR Future LIVE events and our first-generation CAREERS PORTAL, which is launching in September, we aim to inform young people of the wide range of opportunities available to them, help them navigate the complex careers landscape, and inspire them to achieve their ambitions and become the best version of themselves.”
On how these events are different from traditional careers fairs, Rachel said: “It’s the energy. It’s the buzz. There’s live music, it’s fast paced, the pupils are engaged and playing games. They’re finding out what they’re good at, there’s a little healthy competition, and they’re supporting each other.”
With the impact of the pandemic still making itself known in an already highly competitive job market, it has never been as important for students to have opportunities to develop skills that are highly sought after in the workplace.
Providing pupils with an exciting and informative day out, the event held in Foyle Arena welcomed five schools from the district, with almost 550 Year 9 pupils in attendance.
Local Technology teacher, Padraig Rebar from St Joseph’s Boys’ School said they have decided to get involved with the event to give pupils an idea about what their future careers could look like.
“We brought our Year 9 pupils to engage them before they move to Year 10 and they get to choose their subjects. They can move forward with what they’ve learnt here today and get an idea about the direction that they want to take,” he said, adding: “They get a good understanding and possibly an idea where their strengths lie. When they come here they get a practical idea, as to what they could be doing when they finish school.”
4C UR Future ran a calendar of LIVE events, with one event in each Council area across Northern Ireland as an at-scale pilot during the month of June. The full schedule can be found on the Events page of 4C UR Future’s website.
To find out more, or if you’d like to get involved, visit www.4curfuture.com or email email@example.com
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.