Galway’s bus and coach operators have warned today that their businesses are ‘running on empty’ and urgent Government action is needed to save the sector. The impact of the Coronavirus has been particularly hard on the sector, with the complete collapse of international and domestic tourism, and a huge reduction of passenger numbers on scheduled services.
In Galway alone, there are more than 800 people employed by the sector. The operators are financially struggling and many of their employees have had to be laid off for the duration of the crisis.
Speaking to “The Galway Advertiser”, John Halpenny, an operator who represents the sector said that they ate all really worried about the long term future.
“I’ve been talking to others around the county and many are worried that they won’t be able to get through the crisis. If we are going to survive then we are need help from government.”
Mr Halpenny told The Advertiser that many operators had borrowed money to buy new coaches to carry Ireland’s tourists around the country.
“With all the tourists cancelling we’ve had to park new buses in the yards. We need an interest-free moratorium on these loans.” he said.
The sector also carries 90 per cent of Galway school bus journeys, and Mr Halpenny worries that if some operators go out of business then the sector won’t be able to provide a normal school bus services when the crisis ends.
“We need full payment of the school transport contracts for the duration of school closures” said Mr Halpenny. “That way we protect the school bus services and ensure that they are ready to pick up where we left off when this crisis passes.”