Arklow is 'in dire need of proper bus service'
Members of Arklow Active Retirement Association are campaigning for changes to bus timetables to the town.
Members have spoken about the challenges of relying on public transport to travel for appointments in St Vincent's Hospital. They are calling on Bus Eireann to change the bus timetable and increase the frequency of services that serve Arklow and stop at Nutley Lane, opposite St Vincent's.
'We are in dire need of a proper bus service and shelters,' said Elinor Byrne, chairperson of the Arklow Active Retirement Association.
Arklow residents travelling by bus to St Vincent's Hospital take Bus Eireann's Expressway Route 2 from Wexford to Dublin Airport. The Expressway Route 2 timetable has three stops at Nutley Lane, opposite St Vincent's Hospital in the morning and three in the afternoon heading south towards Arklow.
Outside of these stops, passengers have to get off the bus at the UCD flyover, where all services stop, and walk or take a taxi to the hospital.
Martin Carroll (86) explained that when he gets a 10.15 a.m. bus from the Ferrybank stop, he faces a 30 minute walk to the hospital. When returning to Arklow, he says it is often easier to get a different bus into Dublin city centre and catch the Expressway Route 2 from Bus Aras instead of trying to get the bus at Nutley Lane.
'It's very awkward. Sometimes I get a bus to Bus Aras because the buses are more frequent from there. Heading into town can be quicker then waiting at Nutley Lane.'
'I spoke to some members of Bus Eireann staff about the situation before. All the services stop at UCD, but I see many people are going to St Vincent's. I don't think it adds any additional time to a journey,' he added.
The group has also pointed to long waits between services that stop at Nutley Lane. One 77-year-old member said that if she is late and misses the afternoon bus, she can face a three hour wait for the next Expressway 2 bus travelling to Arklow to stop at Nutley Lane.
'It's awkward. If you have a morning appointment, you have a long wait for the first bus back at 2.45 p.m. However, if my appointment is in the afternoon, I'm rushing so I don't miss the bus at 3.45 p.m. Otherwise, you have to wait for the early evening bus at 6.45 p.m.' she said.
The Arklow Active Retirement Association has been campaigning for all buses travelling to and from Arklow to stop at Nutley Lane. However, the issue remains ongoing.
Frequent delays to the bus service has seen Colette Hopper decide to stay overnight with family in Dublin. She says this means she is on time for early-morning appointments.
'I have regular early-morning appointments that tend to be finished by 11 a.m. You are forced to hang around when you really want to go home to your bed. I have started to stay with family in Dublin the night before and after appointments.' she said.
'We are expected to rely on family and friends, but there is only so much they can do.'
Anne O'Connell said, 'the issue is not everyone can drive. Lots of us don't have family here [in Arklow]. We shouldn't have to beg for seats, shelters or better services.'
A spokesperson for Bus Eireann said, 'there are no current plans to change the Expressway Route 2 timetable in 2019.'