Local Independent Deputy, Denis Naughten, has revealed there is a 60 percent reduction in the number of buses facilitating patients and visitors attending Portiuncula University Hospital as a result of the decision by the National Transport Authority not to replace the lost Bus Éireann services.
Analysis by Deputy Naughten of the current Citylink service and the service provided in the past by Bus Éireann at the Portiuncula bus stop shows there has been a drop in services between 7.30am and 9.30pm from 226 buses a week to the current offering of just 84 buses a week.
This analysis is based on the current Citylink commercial Route 763 Galway-Ballinasloe-Athlone-Dublin service, which takes the free travel pass, and services the towns and villages along the old N6 Dublin-Galway road. This is compared to the similar former Bus Éireann Route 20 service before it started to be wound down by the public transport company.
Following direct representations by Deputy Naughten and local Councillors Evelyn Parsons, Tim Broderick, Laurence Fallon and John Naughten, to the National Transport Authority, it has stated that it believes that the Citylink commercial Route 763 is adequate to cover the loss of the Bus Éireann service.
“However, it seems that the National Transport Authority is only looking at this based on the Covid-19 timetable operated by Bus Éireann and not the service that had previously been available at this vital bus stop,” Deputy Naughten said.
Deputy Naughten also pointed out that the HSE has plans to provide further outpatient clinics in Ballinasloe but those who are reliant on the free travel scheme, or those who had used Bus Éireann services to Athlone to connect with the service to Portiuncula, have now been effectively left on the side of the road.
“As someone who used the 20/20X service, I believe this decision totally undermines the government policy on climate change, which is focused on encouraging people to move from cars to public transport. How can we get people to move when those with a right to free transport can’t actually avail of it?," Deputy Naughten added.