The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) is calling for a special once-off timetable to be implemented on public transport in Cork in the run up to Christmas to facilitate people who might avail of late-night shopping.
The Union has written to the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to highlight the potential benefit of an “elongated spread of public transport availability” as restrictions are expected to be eased ahead of the festive period.
In the letter to the Minister, the NBRU said that the level of demand in transport has already “far outstripped” availability.
Under Level 5 of the Living with Covid plan, public transport is operating at 25 per cent capacity. A move to Level 3 would see this increase to 50 per cent.
The letter highlighted speculation in recent days that some retailers may operate on an extended or 24 hour basis in the run up to Christmas and said that the NBRU could produce a bus and train timetable to facilitate a shopping spread and facilitate people.
The NBRU also highlighted its longstanding seasonal agreements to extend services at this time of year.
Dermot O’Leary, NBRU General Secretary said the NBRU believes there is a pent-up demand from people to be able to access retail and hospitality in the run-up to Christmas adding:"we simply cannot afford or allow for additional retail patronage to attempt to overload buses and trains potentially leading to confrontation between commuters and/or frontline transport staff or create Covid-19 hotspots on public transport.”
He added: “We believe we can, at short notice and with Government support produce a one off bus and train timetable which will facilitate a longer shopping spread with a number of frontline staff ready and willing to assists toward alleviating the expected tsunami of people that will venture out to shop and socialise in attempting to make something out of Christmas 2020.”
Both Bus Eireann and Irish Rail said they were awaiting an update on the restrictions in the run-up Christmas before making a decision on services in Cork for the coming weeks.