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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C
Sam Boal/ File photo

Bus Éireann to stop several intercity routes for financial reasons

Services between Dublin and Cork, Galway, Limerick and Belfast will be affected.

BUS ÉIREANN PLANS to close a number of its intercity routes in the coming months for financial reasons.

The company’s Expressway services between Dublin and Cork, Dublin and Galway and Dublin and Limerick are to cease, and the Dublin to Belfast service is to be suspended indefinitely.

A Bus Éireann spokesperson said the measure is “being taken in response to significant medium-term challenges posed by Covid-19 in order to safeguard Expressway’s remaining 14 national routes and meet demand required on other city and commuter services”.

The decision was made at a meeting of the company’s board today “following considerable analysis and review over the past number of months”.

The spokesperson said no exact dates for the changes to come into effect have been determined as of yet but are likely to be early next year when current emergency supports from the government to the Cork, Limerick and Galway routes expire.

The X51 service from Galway to Limerick and the X1 service Dublin to Belfast have not been in receipt of emergency funding and services will formally cease on these routes over the next few months.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) is responsible for transport connectivity and will “review requirements along these routes to mitigate any impact”, the spokesperson added.

Call for government intervention 

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has hit out at the decision and called on the government to intervene.

General Secretary Dermot O’Leary said the NBRU “has been warning that the threat to a number of communities’ bus services has been evident for a number of years”.

The NBRU previously suggested that market saturation would “lead to the demise of those off-motorway bus services that serve the intermediate towns and villages” not served by other companies, O’Leary noted.

He said the issuing of licences to private companies meant “capacity outstripped demand on a number of those inter-urban corridors” such as services from Cork, Limerick and Galway to Dublin.

“Bus Éireann, not least because of its State-ownership model and its social contract to supply the nations bus service, was morally expected to continue to serve those towns and villages not deemed to be profit-worthy by the multinational bus operators,” O’Leary said.

Bus Éireann’s Chief Executive Officer Stephen Kent said the company has “an opportunity” through the July stimulus measures for public transport to increase city services in Cork, Galway and Limerick, as well other services as in Louth and Meath under contract to the NTA. However, other services will need to be cut to make that happen.

“This expansion will require more than 100 drivers which we can fully deliver by consolidating our Expressway network and taking a decision to withdraw from a small number of Expressway routes which would otherwise incur unsustainable losses and thereby avoid job losses in a very difficult trading environment,” Kent stated.

Eleanor Farrell, Chief Commercial Officer at Bus Éireann, added that all changes to services will be communicated to customers in due course and the company “will work closely with the National Transport Authority on timing”.

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