Sherlock calls for a leap of faith from the NTA
More than 1,500 people have signed an online a petition calling on the National Transport Authority (NTA) to extend the Leap Card travel scheme to incorporate rail commuters travelling to and from the Mallow area.
Introduced in Cork in 2014, the Leap Card is currently only available to commuters using Iarnród Éireann commuter services on the Cobh/Midleton to Cork line and offers reduced rail fares for users.
As far back as January 2017 Deputy Sherlock wrote to the NTA requesting that the Leap Card be extended to the Mallow-Cork service. However, in her reply NTA chief executive Anne Graham said it had not been included in the Leap Card scheme because it was an intercity service and not a commuter service.
She wrote that the Leap Card was "not always optimal" for long-distance services "particularly in a situation where the best price for such a journey can be obtained by purchasing an online ticket well in advance of the day of travel."
"An expansion of the scheme would require the purchase of additional 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.
Deputy Sherlock recently raised the issue one again with the NTA only to be told by Ms Graham that the Leap Card worked best along lines with a number of immediate stops in 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.
Speaking to The Corkman Deputy Sherlock said his frustration at the continued refusal of the NTA to extend the Leap Card to Mallow had prompted him to start the petition.
"Where it has been introduced in cities like Dublin, Cork, Galway and Waterford the scheme has 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 said the NTA's argument that those availing of the scheme could stay on a train to Dublin did not stand up to scrutiny.
"The bottom line is that students and workers in both the city and Mallow deserved equality of access to public transport services such as the Leap Card," he said.
"That is why I have started the petition and hope that as many people as possible sign it in order to show the commitment from the people of Mallow and of Cork to train services in this country."
To sign the petition follow the link at www.change.org.