Mounting concern over suspension of Waterford bus routes, says Green Party TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh
Mounting concern over the suspension of bus routes operated by private companies serving Waterford City and surrounds are set to be allayed in the coming weeks, with movement expected from the National Transport Authority (NTA) to support the licensed bus sector.
Services from Portlaw and Dunmore East, operated by Suirway, and the Slieverue-Ballygunner route, operated by JJ Kavanagh, have been suspended since March, with no replacement option provided for commuters dependent on public transport.
Green Party TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh has been contacted by a number of people affected by the suspension, and believes that a solution is now in sight.
“I have been in contact with the private operators in question as well as the NTA and have raised the issue personally with Minister [for Transport, Tourism and Sport] 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,” says Deputy Ó Cathasaigh.
“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 support, 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.
“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,” the Tramore TD adds.