Saturday 24 February 2018

Entire areas have been left marooned for 11 days

The commuter town of Athboy in Co Meath has been cut off. Photo: Tony Gavin
The commuter town of Athboy in Co Meath has been cut off. Photo: Tony Gavin
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Airports and towns serving populations of almost 10,000 people have been marooned without a public transport service for more than a week.

While the capital endured transport chaos late last week as Dublin Bus and Irish Rail services were cancelled, the town of Shannon, Co Clare, with a population of 9,673, has seen people forced to make do without services for 11 days.

Neither Bus Éireann nor private companies are offering transport to Shannon and five other towns with populations above 3,000, the National Transport Authority has confirmed.

They are Kinsale (4,893), Macroom (3,879) and Passage West (5,790) in Cork, Kill in Kildare (3,095) and Ballybofey-Stranorlar (4,852) in Donegal.

In addition, Shannon Airport and Ireland West Airport Knock are not served, while hundreds of smaller communities are also cut off, with residents forced to rely on the private car and limited local services to conduct their daily business.

Bus Éireann said it was the sole provider of rural bus services in many locations, and provided details of hundreds of areas with no public transport, of which more than 90 are in the west of Ireland.

In Kerry, some 15 communities including Kenmare, Dingle, Ballybunion and Listowel are cut off. In Limerick, almost 20 areas including Castleconnell and Askeaton are suffering, while in Clare, Killaloe, Scariff and the tourist towns of Doolin and Liscannor are marooned.

Other locations include Birr in Offaly, Tipperary town, and Fermoy, Killeagh, and Castlemartyr in Cork.

In Meath, the commuter towns of Trim and Athboy are cut-off. There are few alternative services in Cavan, Monaghan and parts of Donegal. To compound matters, there are no bus services in Cork and Limerick cities, nor in Sligo town.

Some 23 public service obligation routes, which are expensive to serve and not supported by the private sector, are also hit.

They cover large parts of the north-west, with most of Connemara without a service including Clifden, Carraroe and Roundstone.

While some areas may have access to a private bus company, making relatively short journeys can be tortuous. To travel from Kells in Meath to Dublin yesterday afternoon, a distance of just under 70km, would have involved a six-hour trip, according to the National Transport Authority's journey planner.

It would have involved a bus trip from Kells to Cavan town, followed by a second from Cavan to Longford, and then a train from Longford to Dublin.

Irish Independent

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