Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary says Minister Shane Ross needs to get a grip on his portfolio and ensure that the Bus Éireann Expressway service is protected. The financial situation at Bus Éireann has worsened considerably over the past year and its being reported that cuts to the Expressway service are to be cut.
Deputy Calleary commented, “Bus Éireann’s finances have been deteriorating for some time so the projected deficit for 2017 should come as no real surprise. However Minister Shane Ross has chosen to turn a blind eye to the escalating crisis in the semi-state bus company, and now there are reports that the situation could result in the closure of the Expressway service.
“This cannot be allowed to happen. Expressway services provide a vital link between towns like Ballina, Castlebar and Westport and Galway, and well as to other main towns across the country. Many people are dependent on the service for hospital appointments in Galway, and students use Expressway buses every weekend to come home from college.
“Bus Éireann provides a great value for money service. It is vitally important that these routes are protected. Any changes to the current routes and service frequencies must be prevented or we risk losing essential transport links. The Ballina depot is a an extremely important facility in the town – not only does it bring locals and tourists to the town, it facilitates a courier service and provides employment.
“The soundings coming from Bus Éireann do not bode well – an upcoming report by Grant Thornton is reported to recommend sweeping changes to routes right around the country. Minister Ross needs to wake up to the seriousness of the situation, and rather than focusing on Dublin issues, realise the impact that any such moves would have on people living outside the capital. The Minister must start taking the concerns of rural communities seriously and come up with a model to ensure that rural routes are sustained.
“Unless urgent action is taken, the Expressway service across Mayo will remain at risk”.