BUS Éireann is being urged to examine how it operates in West Cork, with the Green Party claiming the launch of a new private service connecting Skibbereen with the city should act as a catalyst for the company to slash their prices and increase their services in the west of the county.
The newly launched West Cork Connect service commenced operations in February and is providing a daily service connecting people in Skibbereen, Leap, Connonagh, Rosscarbery, Lisavaird, Clonakilty, Ballinascarthy, Bandon and Innishannon with Bishopstown, Cork University Hospital, the Western Road, and the city centre.
The private bus service, which is being operated by the Long family, is the first such service connecting West Cork and the city centre to operate in 83 years. The company claims its prices are more than 40% cheaper than those of Bus Éireann and that its 10 journey tickets are cheaper than a Leap card.
The launch of the service comes at a time when concerns continue to be voiced about connectivity between West Cork and the city centre. According to Green Party representative for Cork South West, Bernie Connolly, the state of the public transport network in West Cork was an issue that continued to rear its head in the recent election campaign.
“It’s something that consistently came up on the doors during the election, and it’s something you just know if you live west of the city; the buses need to be better, and they need to be affordable.
"It’s a hugely important issue for people, young and old," she said.
“Being unable to get into the city if you have work, college, a hospital appointment, or anything else that’s pressing that requires the commute if you don’t drive."
Ms Connolly says the time is right for Bus Éireann to look at the delivery of its own services in West Cork, and that the launch of a successful private service must be followed up by an expansion of services provided by Bus Éireann, as well as a reduction in fares.
"The new service isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely a start," Ms Connolly said, adding, "even if it isn’t successful in the long run, hopefully, it will get Bus Éireann and the National Transport Office to seriously examine how it operates in the area.”