The decision by Bus Éireann to withdraw all public transport services serving Johnstown in North County Kilkenny and Abbeyleix and Cullahill in South County Laois was condemned by Deputies Charlie Flanagan and Brian Stanley.
Deputy Flanagan said this was the first of a number of savage cuts by Bus Éireann which would result in the withdrawal of services along the main roads from Dublin to Cork, Galway, Waterford, Limerick and the North, respectively. He asked that this decision be reversed.
Deputy Stanley said Bus Éireann’s decision was outrageous and could be compared to removing the bus service from the south of Dublin city.
“If the plan proceeds, the towns of Abbeyleix, Durrow, Johnstown and Urlingford and the village of Cullahill will no longer have a bus service,” he said. “There is no private service on the route, and the first stop will be Urlingford.”
Replying on behalf of the Minister for Transport, Minister of State Kathleen Lynch said as part of its expressway turnaround plan, Bus Éireann was making changes to a number of its commercial services to meet the customer demand for limited stop services with quicker journey times and airport connections to ensure such services were commercially viable. Failure to react to this market demand and competitive pressure would result in a reduction and loss of expressway services and jobs.
“This will see the journey time on the Dublin-Cork expressway service reduced by approximately 50 minutes, by using the M7 and M8 motorways, while still allowing for the extension of the service to Dublin Airport,” she said. “This will mean the Dublin to Cork expressway service will not serve Abbeyleix, Durrow, Johnstown or Horse and Jockey once the revised route comes into effect shortly. Daily patronage of Bus Éireann’s services in Abbeyleix, Durrow, Johnstown and Horse and Jockey is not commercially sustainable. Portlaoise and Urlingford will still be served.”
Bus Éireann was following a viability and efficiency plan designed to address significant financial challenges related to factors such as a 20% fall in passenger numbers, fuel cost increases and competition, she said.