A delegation from Birdhill was due to meet the chief executive officer of Bus Eireann, Martin Nolan, in Portlaoise this morning to discuss the company’s decision to end certain services serving the village.
The State bus company is to cease its X12 route from this Sunday, September 14, for what it claims is commercial reasons. Thsi will mean eight services will be lost.
However, a well attended meeting in Birdhill Community Hall this Wednesday night demanded that Bus Eireann come up with the figures to prove it.
The meeting was called by the local Tidy Towns committee and was told that very little notice was given of the upcoming change.
It was suggested that at today’s Portlaoise meeting, the delegation should demand evidence that the service was under-used and to impress on Mr Nolan that there was no guarantee that private companies serving the route would continue to do so into the future.
Bus Eireann is also to be asked not to implement the changes while they are in talks with users. The meeting decided to establish an action group and is to contact other villages affected - Toomevara, Moneygall and Castletown in County Laois - to join their campaign.
Deputy Noel Coonan, who is due to attend the meeting, warned that Bus Eireann will state that the route does not fall under its Public Service Obligation routes and is subject to commercial considerations.
He further stated that it will be argued that the customer base is too low to justify serving the village.
“There is no vision for transport in rural Ireland,” he said.
In a letter to Deputy Coonan, seen by the Tippeary Star, Mr Nolan said: “In making the decision not to service Birdhill - and similar stops with very low levels of passenger numbers - from September 14 next on the X12, we did so with the view that the majority of these towns are already served by existing bus services. In the case of Birdhill, that includes the Limerick to Birr service and the Expressway 72 Limerick to Athlone route. Other operators offer a range of daily services that serve Birdhill”.
He also pointed out that they had made a submission to end the service to the National Transport Authority some months back and the NTA agreed with its submission.
However, one speaker form the floor at Wednesday night’s meeting said: “They want private operators to run public services.”
Cllr Seamus Morris maintained that Bus Eireann only wanted to be on the motorway and off country roads. “Rural Ireland is an inconvenience to them,” he said.
Wednesday’s meeting was also attended by Cllr John Carroll, Cllr Fiona Bonfield and Cllr Phyll Bugler from the Nenagh Municipal District Council. There were apologies from Minister Alan Kelly and Deputy Michael Lowry.
It was agreed that a motion calling for the decision to be reversed will be discussed at next week’s meeting of Nenagh MDC.