Roscommon-Galway TD Claire Kerrane has hit out at the decision to cut Bus Éireann’s Expressway service from Galway to Dublin, calling for its restoration as a matter of urgency.
The Sinn Féin TD said that the loss of the service will be a further blow to rural communities across east Galway and asked how anyone can expect people to move back to the West while basic services are being taken away.
Deputy Kerrane said that it is ‘particularly shocking’ that the ending of this service was overseen by a Green Party Transport Minister – who should be “increasing sustainable modes of transport, not cutting them.”
“At a time when we are being told to reduce our emissions and use public transport, this decision is another nail in the coffin of rural towns,” she said.
“I will be raising this issue with Minister Eamon Ryan and the NTA to seek a reversal of the decision. The only feasible solution is for the service to be restored as a matter of urgency. Sinn Féin will continue to highlight this issue until the matter is resolved.”
Deputy Kerrane’s party colleague Louis O’Hara said that the decision was wrong and very disappointing news for the communities affected.
“Loughrea and Ballinasloe are large towns with high demand for public transport and it is mind-boggling that this service has been ended,” he said.
“It does not take into account the fact that demand for bus services would have increased significantly in the coming weeks and months now that the country is beginning to open up again.”
Mr O’Hara said that many people will now have to find an alternative way of commuting, and many will be forced to rely on private bus operators.
“This will particularly inconvenience elderly passengers as certain operators do not accept free travel passes and require online booking.
“That people will now have to rely on private operators is an abdication of responsibility from Government who have a duty to provide adequate public services to the people of Galway.”
People Before Profit representative Adrian Curran also criticised the decision, saying that the government’s policy of cutting public bus routes and leaving provision to private operators is unsustainable.
“The new Aircoach 706x service is not a replacement for the Bus Éireann expressway routes, as it ignores Craughwell, Loughrea and Aughrim and leaves Ballinasloe with less frequent services,” said Mr Curran.
He said that the cancellation of expressway services underlines that the government is not taking the climate crisis seriously.
“This move will serve to increase carbon emissions as many people will now have no option but to rely on private cars due to inadequate public transport in Co. Galway.
“The government should instead respond to the climate emergency by investing in free, frequent and fast public transport to improve connectivity for towns and rural areas, reduce emissions, cut journey times, reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.”