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'A report last week recommended Bus Eireann closes an operation that facilitates 7m journeys every year, many of them vital to users, to save money'

'A report last week recommended Bus Eireann closes an operation that facilitates 7m journeys every year, many of them vital to users, to save money'

'A report last week recommended Bus Eireann closes an operation that facilitates 7m journeys every year, many of them vital to users, to save money'

It is a tale of planes, trains and automobiles but seldom a laughing matter, so Transport Minister Shane Ross will do very well if his brief remains a doddle as 2017 rumbles on.

Despite Luas strikes, Dublin Bus disputes and future threats to Irish Rail and Bus Eireann, the minister was happy to tell Ryan Tubridy last year that transport was far easier to manage than his sports portfolio. He was ignoring a four-wheeled Olympic-sized bother.

In recent times we have seen public rows over changes to a flight service to the Aran Islands before the local ferry service then came under threat. Both remain unresolved to the consternation of the 800 or so people living on Ireland's most isolated outposts.

Locals are concerned changes will limit their access to the mainland and hospital services, schooling or the ability to live normal lives, meet friends and run businesses. Even simple matters such as how islanders get their post each day is dependent on the Public Service Obligation contracts the Department of Arts manages for transport to and from the islands.

A report last week recommended Bus Eireann closes an operation that facilitates 7m journeys every year, many of them vital to users, to save money. Similarly, Irish Rail has been told to consider closing a number of rural railway stations and lines, again to save money.

Anomalies exist within the system. It costs €4.60 for an adult to travel the 25km from Maynooth to Dublin by rail. A 21km train journey in Kerry, from Killarney to Rathmore, will cost an adult €8.70 for a single ticket.

Dublin is well served, with tram, rail and bus services making it a doddle to move through a congested city.

This is not the case rurally and it is about time the minister realises moving around this island is not easy.

Sunday Independent