Buses on the busy route are being cancelled with no notice given
Cancellation of main expressway services with little or no notice has led to people being stranded at Dublin Airport and Donegal Town.
That is according to Cllr Noel Jordan (SF) who raised very serious concerns about the increasingly inadequate service.
Cllr Jordan pinpointed the laying off of reserve drivers as the root cause of the ongoing issue. He added that the problem was exacerbated by the lack of alternative transport such as a train service.
The councillor put down the following motion at Tuesday’s meeting of the Municipal District (MD) of Donegal: “I am asking this Municipal District to call on Bus Eireann to provide an unhindered daily service route from Dublin to Donegal Town without cancellations.”
Cllr Jordan clarified to the meeting that he was referring specifically to the 30X Expressway route. Pre-Covid, there were 13 runs a day on the route which ferried passengers between Donegal and Dublin, via Dublin Airport.
However, on top of a reduced service as a result of Covid-19, runs were being cancelled without the information being conveyed to the public.
“It is unacceptable for a public body that most of these cancellations are not uploaded to the website,” said Cllr Jordan.
“That leaves people stranded at Dublin Airport and at the Diamond in Donegal Town.
“What is more worrying is that we are the only county that has made reserve drivers redundant. All other counties have a full complement of reserve drivers.
“This is another blow to the forgotten county, Donegal.”
Cllr Jordan said that in the past, if a driver rang in sick, a reserve driver would be contacted immediately.
“Someone could get a phone call in the middle of the night to tell them they were needed to do a run first thing in the morning,” he said.
“And you can be sure they would be there. If a bus was due to run, it would run.
“The problem now is that there are no reserve drivers to call upon, so if a driver calls in sick there is no one to replace them.”
Cllr Jordan asked council officials to formally bring the matter to the attention of Eamon Ryan, Minister for Transport and leader of the Green Party.
“I would think that he probably doesn’t even know this is happening,” said Cllr Jordan.
“He is always raising the importance of public transport.”
The councillor also expressed concern that Bus Eireann was moving towards privatising the route.
Another issue raised by Cllr Noel Jordan in relation to Bus Eireann’s reduced service was that elderly people were struggling to get places on the bus.
“You have to book your ticket online,” he said.
“We know that doing things online doesn’t work for everyone.
“We are hearing about pensioners turning up to get a bus with their bus pass, and not being allowed on because priority is given to the people who booked a ticket online.”
Cllr Jordan asked if Bus Eireann were being penalised for the repeated cancellations of runs.
“Surely a public service like that has to be fined if they don’t fulfill their routes,” he said.
The motion was seconded by Cllr Jordan’s party colleague, Cllr Michael McMahon.
“We are going backwards in public transport,” said Cllr McMahon.
“It is unbelievable that this is happening in this day and age. Public transport is very important.”
Area Manager of Donegal MD Pauric Sheerin agreed to bring the matter to the attention of Minister For Transport Eamon Ryan TD.
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