BUS services in North Clare have been criticised as “sporadic and unpredictable” with calls being made on Bus Éireann and the Minister for Transport to address this “public transport crisis”.
Denis Vaughan, chair of North Clare Labour, gave an example of a lady in Ennistymon who was left waiting three hours for a Bus Éireann bus to Ennis.
“This is typical of the poor bus services which are very often late or even cancelled,” he said.
He added that he has been approached by a number of tourists who have expressed dissatisfaction with the service.
Bus Éireann has acknowledged that an increase in road traffic volumes over the summer tourist season has impacted on the speed and punctuality of some services, adding, “We are always working to improve this.”
According to the national bus service there have been “minimal issues” with cancelled services on routes in the area in recent weeks, and customers affected have been urged to make complaints to the customer care department.
Mr Vaughan told The Champion, “Many local residents don’t have access to private cars and are totally dependent of the public bus services.
“Imagine the frustration, inconvenience and impact on people’s education, health service and employment.
“Bus timetables are inaccurate and often have handwritten updates. Try explaining to bewildered tourist bus passengers who are advised by locals to hitch hike. An unpredictable bus services is worse than useless.”
He continued, “In the age of climate change, car transport is discouraged and public transport is encouraged by the present government, unfortunately in North Clare sustainable transport is provided by a very poor bus service.”
He drew comparison with the West Clare Railway organisation that was sent up by Percy French in one of his most famous compositions.
“In 1897 after delays on the West Clare Railway left him an hour late for his concert in Kilkee, Percy French wrote ‘Are ye right there Michael’. Maybe a local wit can have a song to commemorate a bus service which is three hours late.”
When contacted by The Clare Champion, a spokesperson for Bus Éireann stated, “Last year Bus Éireann, funded by the National Transport Authority through the Government’s July Stimulus, announced significant enhancements to Clare services and timetables.
“The service improvements in Clare included a new Sunday service of two round trips between Scariff/Limerick on Route 345 as well as enhancements linking Kilkee directly to Doonbeg and Lahinch by public transport for the first time on Route 336.
“Bus Éireann operates Routes 333, 336 and 350 on behalf of the National Transport Authority (NTA) and has carried almost 50,000 passengers on these services since the beginning of this year.
“There have been minimal issues with cancelled services on these routes in the last six weeks based on our records.
“If the specific date of the reported cancellation is available, we will investigate in more detail. We encourage customers to make complaints to our Bus Éireann Customer Care department who can be contacted on LoCall 1850 836 611 or by email CustomerCare@buseireann.ie.
“On occasion it is possible that a service may not operate due to unforeseen operational issues. When this does happen every effort is made to keep customers informed and minimise delays.
“County Clare is a major tourist destination and has seen a significant increase in “staycation” tourist traffic over the summer.
“This increase in road traffic volumes impacts on the operating speed of our services and has impacted on the punctuality of some of our services. Of course, we are always working to improve this and the punctuality performance of all routes is kept under constant review and our aim is to continually improve performance.”
By Jessica Quinn