Kay Newell is quick to point out that she doesn’t want a bus stop right outside her house, doesn’t want any preferential treatment from public transport providers.
However, at 78 years old and with two recent hip operations, she says she is currently paying approximately €240 per month on taxis to travel from her Castlebridge home to Wexford town three times a week.
Although there are bus stops either side of her home, she is unable to walk to either of them, a combination of poor mobility and lack of infrastructure preventing her from walking the 700 metres or so to each stop. A frequent customer of Wexford Bus, Kay says its decision to install new stops in the area has altered her life significantly.
“I was getting on the bus outside for 18 years, right outside my gate. It would stop there for me and a lady across the road,” Kay says. “Then I heard on the radio they were putting in new bus stops and the bus would be going every hour, and I thought ‘great, I can go into town whenever I feel like it’. But when they put the bus stops out they put 700 metres away on either side, if you look where the bus stop is it’s safer to pull in here than it is there.”
In order to reach the bus stop in question Kay says she would have to deal with the traffic coming from Curracloe and on a surface not suitable for walkers of any age.
“It’s dangerous, no one could walk down that road. I certainly can’t. I have a stroller, I’ve had two hip operations.”
Currently Kay travels into Wexford town three times a week at a cost of €10 per journey in a taxi. She calculates that this costs her €240 a month, which is a quarter of what she receives for her pension.
“I go in to do my shopping on a Friday, I meet my friends a couple of days, I have to get out of the house, I’m here on my own, I’d get out every day if I could,” she says.
“I could say to myself, I don’t want to go out, I’d rather sit here every day, and you’d be gone before you know it. I like mixing with people, I love having people over. I’ve lost my two daughters within a year of one another (one of cancer and one of Covid-19), they were both the same age when they died, their funerals were in the UK so I couldn’t go over, and my husband passed nine years ago."
Explaining that she is capable of walking on flat surfaces, Kay says the completion of the footpath joining Wexford town and Castlebridge would give her a new lease of life.
“The council could complete the footpath, they started it and finished it down at the garage, someone said they were out measuring the roads the other day, but I’d like it now while I’m still able to enjoy life,” she says. “I’m not asking Wexford Bus to put a bus stop outside my house but if they at least put one on this side of the road it would mean they’d have to do something with the bank there. I can’t walk on that bank. They need a footpath on one side of the road, you get walkers, people doing runs for charity, it’s a very busy road and it’s getting worse.”
Having contacted the Local Link bus service Kay is hopeful she will be able to avail of its services for her Friday trip to town, but with it only travelling once a week she says she will have to continue to pay for taxis for her other journeys.
Responding to Kay’s concerns, Brendan Crowley, Managing Director of Wexford Bus, said: “Wexford Bus is licensed to operate 11 scheduled public transport bus services between Castlebridge and Wexford, Monday to Saturday. These services collect passengers and set down passengers at designated bus stops that have been approved by the National Transport Authority and Wexford County Council. When selecting the most suitable bus stop location, the population and the safety of the bus stop are considered. The current bus stop locations on the Bridge Loop which serve Castlebridge are the approved bus stop locations for this public transport service.”
Meanwhile, Wexford County Council (WCC) provided this update regarding footpaths in Kay’s area.
“We are currently reviewing infrastructure services in the Castlebridge area, in particular connecting village amenities. It is premature to commit to any specific piece of infrastructure at present, however we are working on plans to improve connectivity and linkages with Wexford town. WCC is happy to discuss the issues raised directly with the lady in question.”