“Disgusting” and “outrageous” is how a city councillor has branded a decision to cease running a long-standing school bus service from Westside to Claddagh from mid-October, adding that it seriously compromises City Hall’s plans to encourage greater use of public transport.
The 8.30am Westside to Claddagh service, along with the return journeys at 13.30pm and 14.30pm are to cease from the middle of this month, and there is confusion as to why these three times/services are being pulled.
According to Independent city councillor Mike Cubbard, the National Transport Authority had assured councillors at past city council meetings, that school transport was a priority in its plans. However he understands the reason why City Hall has been forced to stop the three services now is due to “a lack of funding from the NTA”.
Cllr Cubbard has condemned the NTA for its actions, even going so far as to accuse the body of misleading councillors. He also said the decision has left those parents in Westside, whose children attend the Claddagh School, “worried and concerned”.
“The school bus at 8:30am takes upwards of 25 children from the Westside to Claddagh each morning,” he said. “The 1.30pm service is a quieter service for children finishing at that time, but the 2.30pm service carries on average 40 children per day. If these services are taken away, the nearest a child can get to the school if they get the bus from Westside would be the Cathedral. Are we asking young children to walk from the Cathedral to Claddagh School or send them towards the Cathedral after school to try catch a bus?”
Cllr Cubbard also pointed out that the halting of the services goes against the council’s Transport Strategy, which places “the use of public transport at the heart of all future plans” for the city. “If funding for local school routes is taken, backward this city will go and they may as well scrap the transport strategy,” he said. He is also asking the NTA, “how forcing these children back into parents’ cars feeds into our Transport Strategy?”
The councillor will be raising the issue with the Minister for Transport Shane Ross on the issue, and he has pledged to “not support the Galway Transport Strategy in any form going forward” unless the cuts to the bus service are reversed.