Bus Éireann to cut major inter-city routes

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Bus Éireann is set to cancel a number of major inter-city routes due to the financial impact of Covid-19. The semi-state company is believed to be looking at ending the Dublin services to Cork, Limerick and Galway, while also suspending operations to Belfast.

An express service running from Galway to Limerick via Shannon airport which ceased to operate during the summer is not now expected to resume.

In a statement this afternoon, the company said: "This measure is being taken in response to significant medium-term challenges posed by Covid19 in order to safeguard Expressway’s remaining 14 national routes and meet demand required on other city and commuter services.

"No cessation dates have been determined as yet but changes are likely early next year when the current Commercial Bus Operator emergency supports to the Cork, Limerick and Galway routes expire. The X51 service from Galway to Limerick and the X1 service Dublin to Belfast have not been in receipt of emergency funding and services will formally cease on these routes over the next few months. The National Transport Authority is responsible for transport connectivity and will review requirements along these routes to mitigate any impact."

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It said the copmany plans to increase its city services in Cork, Galway and Limerick, as well other services as in Louth and Meath.

Eleanor Farrell, Chief Commercial Officer, said: "We will communicate any changes clearly with our customers and will work closely with the National Transport Authority on timing. A more sustainable footing allows us to make important investments into our overall network and these decisions will allow us to continue improving our customer experience, providing a platform for future growth, despite current Covid19 challenges."

The National Bus and Rail Union says it isn't surprised, and says it has been assured there won't be any job losses. Its general secretary, Dermot O'Leary said it is now down to politicians to fight for their local bus service and "to show their worth to their constituencies in the areas affected.”

Mr O’Leary said: “The politicians, particularly those that represent the constituencies which will be impacted by this decision to cull routes, should ponder on the fact that Bus Éireann, and Bus Éireann alone, in the vast majority of areas across Ireland, was the only bus service left standing during the Covid-19 induced lockdown, from March through to July.”

Labour Transport spokesperson Duncan Smith said the decision must be reviewed, adding that it could lead to the loss of other services in towns along the current routes.

Mr Smith said: “The announcement today from Bus Éireann is deeply concerning as the Covid-19 pandemic is used to cut and reduce transport services that are a vital link for many towns and cities. We need to be expanding public transport options, not reducing them.

“That our national bus company is not prepared to provide express services between the main cities in our country is a retrograde step, and I am calling on them to review their decision. The Minister for Transport needs to intervene here as it is part of a long running management agenda to reduce Expressway services due to intense competition in the sector."

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