Opinion

Monday 1 May 2017

Rural Ireland won't lose its ticket to ride

Rival operators will take up the slack if Bus Eireann cuts routes - and the taxpayer will save a small fortune, writes Sean Barrett

There are 9,259 licensed large public service vehicles registered on our roads, twice the 1992 figure. The potential for more and better services is being realised as we move away, albeit slowly, from monopolistic thinking (Stock picture)
There are 9,259 licensed large public service vehicles registered on our roads, twice the 1992 figure. The potential for more and better services is being realised as we move away, albeit slowly, from monopolistic thinking (Stock picture)

Sean Barrett

We have received the first quantified proposal to stave off the insolvency of Bus Eireann. The company stated that it would save €1.1m by leaving three routes - Dublin-Derry, Dublin-Clonmel and Athlone-Westport. Leaving aside the recurring claims that the future of rural Ireland is again at risk, what might be the consequences of these changes?

Dublin-Derry has three operators. Ulsterbus has four services per day, McGinleys and Bus Eireann each have two. The low market share of Bus Eireann indicates that its passengers have ready alternatives. Those expressing concern for remote areas will be pleased that McGinley serves Inishowen.

Dublin-Clonmel has two operators - Bus Eireann with eight services per day and JJ Kavanagh with seven. Fears that rural Ireland risks isolation are allayed by examining their timetables. Bus Eireann serves Kilkenny, Callan and Grangemockler. Kavanagh serves these plus Kilsheelan, Castlecomer, Crettyard, Ballylinan, Athy, Kilcullen and Naas. There is no threat there of isolation when Bus Eireann leaves.

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