02 Dec 2021

Council accused of being like the ‘Healy-Raes ’ due to lack of electric buses in Kilkenny Bus Service

Rebuffed: Local authority hit back at comment saying they are committed to tackling climate change

Kerry county councillor Danny Healy-Rae

Kerry TD, Danny Healy-Rae

A local councillor has said the Council are being like the “Healy-Raes” after members were told there would be no electric buses as part of the initial roll-out of the Kilkenny City Bus Service.

The diesel service could be available to the public by the end of this year or the beginning of 2019 with the National Transport Authority also committing to electric buses being piloted first in Kilkenny when a framework is drawn up.

Members of Kilkenny City Municipal District were given an update on the scheme last month and were told that the service will run at half hour intervals from Monday to Friday from 7am to 10.30pm.

There will be four buses in all as part of the fleet with two buses running across the Green and Red Routes.

Cllr Malcolm Noonan said now that there is a delay there is a chance to ensure some part of it is an electric service.

While Cllr Breda Gardner said she was “extremely disappointed ”by the lack of electric buses when the Government is putting billions into climate change.

“We ’ve a wonderful opportunity to get electric buses and you still have time. Kilkenny County Council could be a role model for the rest of Ireland,” she said.

Cllr Gardner said they were “being like the Healy-Raes here now”.

Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae previously spoke in the Dáil where he said patterns of climate change took place in the past and he did not believe man had no “hand, act or part”in it.

He added:“God above is in charge of the weather and we here can’t do anything about it .”

Simon Walton, area engineer for the Council, said he “did not know what point” Cllr Gardner was trying to make with the Healy-Rae comment as the Council and its staff are totally committed to tackling climate change.

Mr Walton said the only framework for the supply of fleets currently relates to diesel fleets and it is the intention of the NTA to roll out a framework for electric buses.

The NTA have framework contracts in place that take time to develop in respect of the supply of buses all over the country.

They are currently developing a framework for climate change friendly buses but they have not completed those tenders.

He told members that they have given a commitment that Kilkenny will be the first place to have the framework piloted.

“If we’re getting a bus service now it’ll be a diesel bus service or we can wait three or four years for electric buses. It’s about getting bums on seats,” he said.

Cllr Patrick McKee said there is fantastic work being done by the Council in tackling climate change and said electric buses were not going to happen and it’s important the service is delivered.

He added there is one spot missing on the route and that is outside the Primary Care Centre in Ayrfield .

“That the bus doesn’t stop there is an omission and I would plead that it’s included,” he said.

The service will also run half hourly on Saturdays from 8am to 10.30pm with a full complement of buses while on Sunday there will be just two buses running, one per route fromand 12pm to 5pm every hour.

Cllr Peter ‘Chap’ Cleere said the bus service would be a “game changer” for Kilkenny in terms of transport infrastructure and asked about park and ride depots for people in rural communities.

Cllr David Kennedy asked about the kind of depots the buses will be stored in. In response, Mr Walton said: “This is a Kilkenny City Bus Service.” 

He said there was an element of needing to “crawl before we can walk”.

The depots are part of the tendering process that prospective contractors will have to come with solutions to.

Meanwhile CllrJoe Malone said “unless people use it, it is not going to work”. He said the Butts area is not included on the routes and asked could it be given consideration to be added.

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