Bus Éireann had advised people intending to travel on its intercity Expressway routes this weekend -including two servicing Waterford – to avoid peak times, with some services unable to satisfy passenger demand.
Of Expressway’s 18 routes, those currently experiencing the greatest peak time pressures are the X4 (Waterford to Dublin via Carlow) and the 40 (Tralee/Cork and Cork/Waterford/Rosslare via Killarney, Macroom, Cork, Midleton, Youghal, Dungarvan, Waterford and Wexford).
“While only seven per cent of our services overall have demand that exceeds capacity, the issue is more acute on certain routes,” said Eleanor Farrell, Bus Éireann’s Chief Commercial Officer.
“We recognise that the fact that it is a small minority of services that are oversubscribed is not much consolation for customers needing to access those routes. We regret the inconvenience being caused to some passengers and the challenge for our colleagues who are doing their very best to manage this situation.”
Bus Éireann is adhering to public health guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19, limiting the capacity on buses and coaches to 50 per cent of total, meaning it has 8,000 Expressway seats available daily, as opposed to 16,000 pre-Covid.
“Furthermore, most commercial operators have not yet returned to the road, meaning that total capacity available on many routes is much less than 50 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels. Due to the 50 per cent capacity limit on all public transport, Government guidance is currently that public transport should only be used for ‘necessary journeys’,” said a company spokesperson.
Eleanor Farrell continued: “Our drivers and inspectors are not in a position to assess whether someone’s journey is necessary or not. We would like people to take into consideration that their journey may prevent an essential worker reaching their place of employment, or someone attending a healthcare appointment.
“People may not be aware that morning services are seeing less demand, with the peak now arising between 12 noon and 7pm. We have tried to introduce measures to help customers manage and plan their travel. We have live service updates on our Twitter feeds which are particularly useful to people wishing to travel from an intermediary stop. Anyone who buys a ticket online but is unable to travel due to capacity restrictions is of course entitled to travel on another service or a full refund.”
The operator noted this morning: “Expressway has operated as a non-subvented service on 18 intercity routes throughout the lockdown, because of the need to provide transport for essential workers. There are 22 hospitals served by Expressway and almost 250 communities for which Expressway has been the main public transport available since March.”