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Sligo Champion

Carraroe calls for bus restoration

Carraroe and District Regeneration Association (CADRA) is calling for the restoration of bus services to Sligo Retail Park after it was removed six years ago.

The campaign is calling for a restoration of the services and for the service to be extended to Carraroe Community Centre.

Speaking to The Sligo Champion about the ongoing campaign, Honorary Secretary of CADRA, Pat Benson said the service had been withdrawn in 2014 without consultation with the group or anyone else in Carraroe.

Highlighting the issue of climate change, Mr Benson said note the reintroduction of the service as a positive in reducing the amount of cars coming into Sligo town from the Carraroe area.

"There's the issue of climate change and Sligo County Council is the lead agency for climate change. Obviously reducing the parking spaces in Sligo town we felt it appropriate to get the bus service back to the retail park and extend it to Carraroe to the community centre."

Mr Benson outlined that there is a council owned car park lying idle at the community centre which could be used of a 'Park and Ride' system was established at the site.

"It would be a good thing for the town and climate change. "We had talks with Sligo Bus Éireann locally and we didn't get anywhere."

It was explained to the group that it was out of Bus Éireann's control, and, instead it was under the remit of the National Transport Authority and was also a matter for Minister Shane Ross.

The group wrote to Minister Ross in December 2018 outlining their case for the reintroduction of the service and service extension. The letter detailed a community study the group commissioned which identified the need for a Park and Ride facility to be developed.

The study outlined the overall catchment area had a population of 4,456 people, which represents 235 of the Sligo town population. Two thirds of this population are between the ages of 19 and 64 with 26% of dependents 18 and younger and 12% older than 65 years.

The group indicated that going on the findings from the study, a Park and Ride service at the central location at Carraroe Community Centre would benefit the neighbouring areas of Ballisodare, Ballygawley, and Ballintogher.

"People wishing to travel to Sligo City can drive the short distance to Carraroe and Park and Ride to the city, thereby avoiding the issue of parking in Sligo City," said Mr Benson. The group also wrote to all local TDs and Independent Cllr Marie Casserly. According to Mr Benson, only Deputy Eamon Scanlon (FF) addressed the matter by way of a parliamentary question in 2018.

In a response to this question querying the service, CEO of the NTA, Anne Graham said in conjunction with Bus Éireann, an expanded and improved service was introduced in Sligo in 2014 and that the service had experienced a 'significant increase in passenger numbers'.

In the letter to Minister Ross the group outlined the Public Service Obligation which is provided as a funded service to meet the needs of persons over 66 years of age.

The letter stated, "The population of our catchment over 66 years is 614 or 14% of our population. We as a community, because of the absence of the above service, is deprived of the opportunity to avail of this support provided through the financial grant by the Department of Social Protection for this purpose."

The group believes the service would reduce the need to travel by car to Sligo town for a large number of residents and would allow the population to remain independent. Now the group are preparing for local election candidates to canvass the Carraroe area and are considering launching a petition on the matter.

"It's not going away, it makes common sense. I can't understand why the council aren't demanding this service. Rural Ireland is being ignored," said Mr Benson.

Sligo Champion