A solution to the suspension of private bus services on the Portlaw, Dunmore East and Ferrybank/Slieverue routes is in sight according to Waterford TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh (GP).
In a statement, Deputy Ó Cathasaigh said that public concern regarding these services is “set to be allayed in the coming weeks”, with movement expected from the National Transport Authority (NTA) in support of private operators.
“I have been in contact with the private operators in question as well as the NTA and have raised the issue personally with (Transport) Minister (Eamon) Ryan. The provision of quality public transport is a key issue for the Green Party, and the return of schools in September will very much exacerbate the problem unless a solution is arrived at before then.”
Deputy Ó Cathasaigh continued: “By the same token, we have to understand that a private company cannot operate indefinitely at a loss, and the need to run services at a reduced capacity to accommodate social distancing undermines the business model for these operators. The Government has approved the introduction of temporary funding supports, in accordance with EU and national legislation, for the licensed bus sector. This will assist essential operators who are still under severe financial distress due to the fall in passenger numbers and associated drop in fare revenue as a result of Covid-19. Licensed bus operators are essential in areas that are not covered by existing public service obligation bus or rail services.”
The Suirway services linking Dunmore East and Portlaw to Waterford, along with the JJ Kavanagh service connecting Slieverue to Ballygunner, have not operated since mid-March, with no replacement service provided in the interim.
An online campaign to see Bus Éireann provide a double decker bus service on the Waterford-Dunmore East route was launched earlier this month. People Before Profit’s Una Dunphy, who is supporting the campaign, described Bus Éireann’s public service remit as “the key to resolving the issue in Dunmore and around the country”.
Deputy Ó Cathasaigh, who has been contacted by several people affected by the suspension of the privately run services, concluded: “It is my understanding that the NTA is currently engaging with both JJ Kavanagh and Suirway, with a view to agreeing the appropriate mechanism and the funding to recommence services as soon as possible.”