9 November 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan Co Council are seeking a meeting with the Chief Executive of Bus Éireann amid fears that bus services between the county and Dublin are to be drastically curtailed.
The fears were aired at Monday’s meeting of the Council when members agreed to adopt a motion from the Sinn Féin councillors and moved by Sean Conlon requesting that assurances be sought from Bus Éireann CEO Martin Nolan “that the existing 177 Monaghan-Dublin service retains its current route and frequency of provision.”
Council members also met with local bus drivers at the Four Seasons Hotel on Monday evening to discuss the implications of the proposals which, it was stated during the Council meeting debate, could see the discontinuance of the 6.10 am and 8.10 am Monaghan-Dublin service as well as passengers from Monaghan having to travel to Drogheda to get a connecting bus to the capital.
Requesting the members to agree to move the motion forward from its place on the agenda and treat it as an urgent business item, Colr Conlon said that this was a time-sensitive issue, and pointed out that Bus Éireann drivers would be attending at the Four Seasons Hotel at 7.45 pm that evening to brief Council members on the imminent implications for the route.
Fianna Fáil’s Robbie Gallagher, who said he had also been lobbied on this issue, proposed that the Council contact Bus Éireann seeking a meeting to discuss the proposed route changes. He pointed out that contacts he had made had resulted in an indication that Bus Éireann were willing to meet a Council delegation – he thought it would be a good idea for the Council also to meet the bus drivers concerned so they could brief them before the meeting.
Moving the SF motion, Colr Conlon referred to documentation sent to local bus drivers, which indicated that proposals were in train to reduce the current status of the Monaghan-Dublin service. He said the service was very important to people in Monaghan, Carrickmacross and Castleblayney as well as in Ardee because of its early departure times of 6.10 am and 8.10 am.
These early departures appeared to be under threat, and there were proposals for a reconfigured service, which would terminate in Drogheda, something that would affect a lot of people from the county with hospital appointments in Dublin and those who worked and studied in the capital.
“Those who have to go to Dublin early in the morning will no longer have this service,” Colr Conlon stated. He said that local bus drivers would meet Co Council members that evening to outline clearly the proposed “culling” of the service, which would have a huge impact and which was being done entirely without consultation with the drivers.
Colr Conlon added that it was believed the plans arose from proposals to put resources back into the West Cavan service.
Seconding the motion, Colr Gallagher said that six buses currently left Monaghan daily and went through Castleblayney and Carrickmacross direct to Dublin, with six return journeys. It was being proposed to reduce this number to three, and the three buses would only go as far as Drogheda where a connecting bus would bring passengers to Dublin.
Colr Gallagher said that a reconfiguration of services was taking place in Cavan, and the Monaghan drivers would be asked to provide cover there. The service as it stood at present was widely used, particularly by students travelling to Dublin every day who couldn’t afford to live in digs in the city.
He believed the plan was that Monaghan would only be serviced by the Letterkenny or Derry express – if there were spare seats Monaghan passengers would get their lift to Dublin, but if there weren’t, they would be left high and dry.
Colr Gallagher said it was important that the Council met the local drivers so they would be better equipped to go into a meeting with Bus Éireann personnel.
Supporting the motion, Pádraig McNally said that while the changes being mooted were described as a proposal, they were very worrying. All the efforts that had recently been made in Carrickmacross to improve bus services there would be for naught if they were implemented.
Colr McNally pointed out that Monaghan was a unique region of the country in that they had no train service. He believed these proposals would become a reality if the Co Council didn’t “kick up a rumpus” – the existing level of service was an absolute necessity in terms of transport, and they needed to impress on Bus Éireann this absolute necessity, not just for students but for the whole public community of Co Monaghan – it was their only lifeline to Dublin.
The South Monaghan councillor added that the Council needed to act very urgently, and to talk not just to the Bus Éireann Chief Executive but the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar if necessary.
“We also need to engage the support of our Oireachtas members to have them lobby Bus Éireann and the Minister at national level,” Colr McNally urged.
The Council appointed a delegation representative of all groupings to participate in the proposed meeting with Bus Éireann.

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