Thursday 20 June 2019

NTA set to extend LEAP scheme to Mallow

Bill Browne

The decision by the National Transport Authority (NTA) to extend the LEAP card travel scheme to incorporate the Mallow to Cork City rail service has been welcomed by Cork North Labour TD Séan Sherlock.

Introduced in Cork in 2014, the Leap Card offers reduced rail fares for users,  but in Cork has only been available to those using Iarnród Éireann commuter services on the Cobh/Mideton to Cork line. 

As far back as 2017, Deputy Sherlock wrote to the NTA requesting that the LEAP Card scheme be extended to the Mallow-Cork service. However, in her reply NTA chief executive Anne Graham said it had not been included in the scheme because it was an intercity service and not a commuter service. 

"An expansion of the scheme would require the purchase of additional electronic ticketing equipment as those in Mallow are not capable of accepting Leap Cards. There is currently no funding available for this equipment for this station," she added. 

Last year Deputy Sherlock once again raised the isue with the NTA only to be told by Ms Graham that the Leap Card worked best along lines with a number of immediate stops on populated areas "as this enables certain economies of scale to be achieved." 

"There are no stops between Mallow and Cork. In contrast, there are three stops on the line between Midleton and Cork and five stops Cobh and Cork. In addition, those stations are located much closer to the populated areas around Cork City," wrote Ms Graham. 

At the time Deputy Sherlock instigated an online petition calling on the NTA to extend the LEAP card scheme to include commuters travelling to and from Mallow, which garnered more than 1,500 signatures. 

He pointed out that where the scheme had been introduced in cities it had encouraged greater use of public transport. 

"If we are serious about taking cars off our roads then we have to allow people to take advantage of public transport initiatives," said Deputy Sherlock. 

"I would also point out that the technology is currently in place at Mallow station - it just isn't being used," he added.  Deputy Sherlock this week confirmed the NTA had decided, as a short term goal, to expand the scheme for commuters using the Mallow service. 

This is an important first step. I have been campaigning on this for a few years. We must keep up the pressure to bring this to fruition," said Deputy Sherlock.

"The inclusion of the extension of LEAP services between Cork and Mallow in the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Study is a good start. This paves the way for cheaper rail fares for commuters," he added.