| 11.8°C Dublin

Appeal for U-turn as cuts put the brakes on park shuttle bus

THE OPW has been called on to reverse a decision to scrap its popular Phoenix Park shuttle bus service, less than two years after it was launched.

The move has been described as a "huge loss" to tourism for the city, with no dedicated bus serving some of the city's most popular park-based attractions, such as the zoo.

The OPW has blamed budget cutbacks for the end of the service, which takes effect from January 24.

A spokesman said the OPW regretted having to end the service, which had been used by visitors and residents alike and had helped cut the number of cars on the park's roads.

"The OPW has had cuts right across the board," the spokesman said. "All sections have been affected, as have all Government departments. We very much regret this, but you never know -- at some point in the future we might have it back if things change."

The service, launched in mid-2008, was sponsored by the OPW and run by Aircoach.

It operated a circular route on a hop-on, hop-off basis with a €2 adult fare and served attractions such as the Phoenix Park Visitors' Centre, Dublin Zoo and Farmleigh.

Local councillor Peggy Hamill (Lab) said she was disappointed by the move.

"This will be a huge loss," she said. "It was definitely a service that was enjoyed by numerous people.

"If we are serious about promoting Dublin, our best attractions, some of which are in the park, have to be easily accessible to visitors. Given the straitened economic times that we are living in, it is understandable that the demand might not be there at the moment, but come the spring, there will be huge interest again in visiting the park.

"This is a backward step given that we have seen a drop in visitor numbers to Ireland in recent times, so downgrading the services that are available certainly won't help."