Drastic cut to familiar red and white fleet is a tragedy for small towns
For many years, the red and white Bus éireann fleet has been a familiar sight in the busy town square in Tullow, Co Carlow.
At various times of the day, the bus will roll into town and clusters of commuters are busy boarding or disembarking. But the plan to dramatically reduce the bus service that gives a small rural town a direct connection with our capital city, is set to have a devastating impact upon both the young and old that live there.
The number five route, which is due to be dramatically cut back next month, has been loyally serving Tullow for years.
It is as reliable as clockwork, with the drivers becoming familiar faces to those of us who regularly use it. My aunts used it to make the weekly return voyage to the bright lights of Dublin for college and eventually to work.
And when my time came, I was often found happily chatting with my friends on a Sunday evening as we waited for the bus to bring us back to Dublin together for the new week at college.
Our small town has survived the many hurdles the recession put in front of us, and we even managed to attract a young commuter population in the midst of this.
Many of these can be found bleary-eyed in the town centre every morning, waiting to take their regular seats as they make the daily commute to the capital for work.
Restricting the bus service in my local town will not just be a massive inconvenience for the regular commuters who rely on it for work, but it will also strip some of our older neighbours of their independence.
My late grandmother Josie is the perfect example.
She was not able to drive, but in her life she fought cancer three times.
Despite my parents' pleas to allow us to drive her to all of her various check-ups, she was most content when she could amble down to the bus early in the morning and go to Dublin by herself.And there are many more who are just like her, elderly people that rely on this route to connect them to the services available only in the capital.
Of course, Carlow town offers many alternative links to Dublin and the rest of the country. But Carlow is more than eight miles away from Tullow.
Unfortunately, that eight miles will be a bridge too far for some.
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