Locals are angry in Dromod and Rooskey that they have been left stranded without an adequate bus service as the Minister for Transport, Bus Eireann and National Transport Authority all deny total responsibility for the new route changes.
Almost 150 angry Dromod and Rooskey residents attended a public meeting last week about the removal of the Bus Eireann route through both villages implemented earlier this month.
Larry O’Connor emphasised to the large crowd that the bus service has “not been restored” but a temporary service has been put in place on a six-month trial basis. This is a once daily service through the villages of Dromod at 7.32am and Rooskey at 7.35am to Longford which returns through the villages at 7.30pm and 7.33pm. This is a huge jump from six services each way through the village which previously existed and is very early for many passengers.
The “original” route has been in place for over 100 years and despite being told that the change onto the bypass is for “commercial” reasons, the local group disagree and say that the route on the by pass is “longer” and makes no money as it losses out on passenger revenue from the villages.
Mr O’Connor said that almost every morning there was 4-5 people waiting on the bus to Dublin, these people have now been left “stranded.”
The local group said they have been sent “around in circles” looking for answers. They wrote to the Taoiseach who passed them on to Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar who passed them on to the National Transport Authority, who in turn sent them on to the CEO of Bus Eireann.
Eddie Frayne and Larry O’Connor noted that a bus stop in Carracastle, Co Mayo was recently reinstated due to “political pressure” and they are now seeking the same pressure from local representation. They said the cuts impact severely on the elderly and on students, patients and flight passengers.
Mayor of Roscommon Tom Crosby along with Leitrim Cathaoirleach Enda Stenson and councillors from both counties all pledged their support to the reinstatement of services each day through the villages.
Deputy Denis Naughten attended, he said he previously raised the issue in the Dáil, he said the Minister has washed his hands off the problem, he said Bus Eireann said it was a “commercial decision” to change the route.
He said there are no private operators providing a daily service to Dublin in the North west. He commented that the cut to Dromod and Rooskey was the “soft option” which he believed “defied logic.”
Independent Deputy Luke Ming Flanagan sent his apologies, along with representative Des Guckian to the meeting. Mr Guckian said the Independent TD and Denis Naughten were both not invited to a meeting between Frank Feighan and the CEO of Bus Eireann recently about the route changes. He said politicians need to work together to “defend the west.”
Fine Gael Deputy, Frank Feighan did not attend the meeting and the Chairman noted that had been no response from the invite sent. The comment coming from the top table and from the audience was critical of Deputy Feighan and expressly demanded he put political pressure on the Minister for Transport to reinstate at least two daily return services through the villages.
Almost 1,300 signatures against the cuts have been collected in the local area last week. It is understood that the new route changes are to be reviewed shortly, but the feeling from the Rooskey meeting was if they let the bus stops go - next for the chop will be the Dromod train service.
There is also a major campaign to overturn the cuts to bus services from West Cavan. Those living in the Ballinamore area have been effected by the cuts to West Cavan, but a meeting arranged in the town to discuss the cuts and also the work being done to try and bring a service to the South Leitrim town attracted just 12 people to the Community Centre last Thursday evening.
Padraig Griffin and Michael Dolan lead the small meeting which was an update on a campaign to provide the town with a service to Dublin.
Mr Griffin showed the Leitrim Observer a letter from Leo Varadkar from August 8 this year which stated he would be asking the transport review committee “to ensure that the provision of public transport to Ballinamore” be included in the national review. But instead of any progress, the closest service in Bawnboy/ Swanlinbar has been rerouted. A petition for the reinstatement of the bus route in West Cavan and for Ballinamore to be added on to it is currently available in the town.
In a submission sent to the Taoiseach and Minister Leo Varadkar, Mr Griffin asked why the part public funded Bus Eireann services Enniskillen, Derrylin and Belleek and yet does not service taxpayers south of the border.