Applications ready to be lodged with NTA for more shuttle bus service routes
Proposals are before the National Transport Authority (NTA) over proposals for a shuttle bus service connecting Wicklow towns and villages.
Local Link will provide the service if the applications are successful.
Jackie Melia and Eric Bentley addressed Monday's County Council meeting and spoke about the plans they have for potential new routes.
The initial routes put forward for funding are Wicklow town to Glendalough via Rathnew, Ashford and Roundwood; Greystones Dart Station to Roundwood via Kilcoole and Newtownmountkennedy, and a loop of Greystones taking in the Dart Station, Delgany, Blacklion and Charlesland. Seven day per week, hourly bus services are being sought. If the applications are successful, it is planned to apply to the NTA for further routes servicing different parts of the county.
Mr Bentley said Local Link had carried out a number of studies before making the applications, and found that tourists often find it difficult to travel to Glendalough because of a lack of bus services.
'People come into Wicklow town on the train or bus expecting to be able to get a bus to Glendalough only to find they have to go back to Bray or St Stephen's Green in order to get to Glendalough,' said Mr Bentley.
Cllr Jennifer Whitmore worked closely with Local Link on the applications and she proposed that Wicklow County Council write to the NTA voicing support for the new routes.
'A huge amount of work has gone into theses proposals,' said Cllr Whitmore. 'These routes have been driven on and timed with buses to make sure they are accessible. This will be an absolute game changer for these communities. We are talking about a seven day hourly service. It will be more like a community bus service. If there is an elderly woman living at the bottom of a lane-way then the bus can drop her off right at her home with her shopping. We need to let the NTA know we support these routes, then they will be more likely to fund further routes if there is a demand.'
Cllr Shay Cullen also offered his support. 'When we talk about tourism and what Wicklow has to offer, then certainly Local Link will help. As it stands we have the unfortunate situation where tourists take the St Kevin's bus to Glendalough from Bray or Dublin but they are unable to visit other towns.'
He proposed that all Wicklow's TDs should be contacted to lobby in favour of the proposed routes.
Cllr Irene Winters said: 'Local Link is about more than transport. It is about creating a service for communities and building friendships along the routes.'
Cllr Vincent Blake recalled attending the launch of Wicklow Rural Transport in Donard back in 2003. Local Link is the replacement for that service.
'It allowed people in rural areas to attend doctor and hospital appointments, visit larger towns for shopping and provided a connection to public services. It proved a great success and any additional routes will benefit the communities involved.'
Cllr Gerry Walsh said: 'A lot of research has gone into this initiative. It will offer support to tourism and places such as Glendalough. It could also help with the traffic issue in Glendalough. This is something that could help to address that problem.'
Cllr Jim Ruttle felt west Wicklow was deserving of further routes and services.
'There is a huge need for a feeder service in Blessington and the whole Lakes area. Also, we could do with a service connecting Naas so people could access hospital facilities or visit the health board.'