National Transport Authority to be Asked to Review Rural Bus Routes and Pricing

By Seamus Whelehan

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Cork County Council will be asked next month to write to the National Transport Authority to have them review pricing and routes for rural areas of the county.
The move comes after East Cork Municipality Cllrs told Bus Eireann, on Monday last, that they expect expanded routes and increased frequency of bus services throughout the region.
The Councillors told Tim O’Leary, Southern Operations Manager Bus Eireann, that in areas where there is an infrequency of service, it is especially tough on people who attend College or work late into the evening.
For other transit users it can be difficult to get anywhere at any time of the day.
Fianna Fail Cllr James O’Connor told the Operations Manager that he would like to see bus fares reduced for rural services.
The Killeagh based Cllr said the Company’s pricing model did not make sense, when it’s cheaper to travel from Dungarvan to Cork than it is from Youghal, and other villages along the route, to Cork City.
“In some cases,” he said, “the distance is half, or less, making it extremely expensive to travel by public transport to Cork City.”
The cost factor is adding to people’s reluctance to use public transport, thus increasing the levels of congestion on our roads, he said.
Committee Chairwoman, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley said she had raised a similar point with the National Bus Company last February but was still awaiting an answer to her query.
Mr O’Leary said Bus Eireann are allowed set their own rate on Expressway services, but the remaining network has its pricing established by the National Transport Authority (NTA) under a Public Services obligation.
He said while all residents in East Cork do not have equal access to public transport, the NTA has the power to bring balance to the network.
Cllr Michael Hegarty said that, with the promised reorganisation of time tables, several areas could see an improved service.
The Fine Gael Cllr gave the example of Rose Hill in Ballinacurra where the bus can stop for up to half an hour. He said if the driver was sent on to Cloyne that would increase the service to the village at a neutral cost.
Sinn Fein Cllr Daniele Twomey said “there needs to be some increase in the service level at times, as there is with the trains.”
She said there are huge issues with the Youghal bound bus being full at certain times, leaving members of the public stranded.
Cllr Susan McCarthy agreed with Cllr Twomey. She said nothing had changed since Bus Eireann previously visited in February. The Midleton based Cllr said she has had repeated complaints from people who work in Cork, and who are dependant on the bus in the mornings.
“They queue at the stop but can’t get on the bus, and then have to take a bus one hour later and are late for work. It’s just not cost effective for them to do that” she said.
Cllr Noel Collins said he has been raising the bus issues for over three decades.
He said in 1986 he was “advised that a small bus office and waiting room was under consideration for Midleton Centre, with no progress to date.”
The Independent Cllr said he had also proposed that a one hourly bus service to Ballinacurra be extended to cover additional bus services to Whitegate, serving Upper Aghada, Roche’s Point and Guileen.

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