“NOBODY should be left on the side of the road when wanting to travel by public transport,” said Aled Williams, who is the senior operations manager (South) for Bus Éireann after concerns were expressed about reliability this week's Carrigaline municipal district meeting.
Mr Williams admitted the ‘chronic’ traffic levels in Cork city have resulted in operational issues for the company when he addressed the issues raised by the councillors regarding numerous bus routes in the Carrigaline Municipal District.
He also cited the bus only hours in Patrick Street which is not being adhered to by car users and cars parked in front of bus stops as other factors which are affecting reliability.
Fianna Fáil councillor Seamus McGrath raised the issue of reliability in relation to the 225, 223 and the 220 service.
“On the issue of reliability, the kind of services I am referring to would be the 225 service, the 223 and the 220. Issues have been raised with me over a period of time just about reliability. No show buses are the biggest issue.
Cllr McGrath said reliability issues need to be sorted to successfully promote sustainable travel modes. “Several people are basically threatening to stop using public transport and buy a car instead. That is not where we need to be as a country in terms of trying to promote sustainable travel modes. We really need to get our act together in terms of reliability.”
Fine Gael councillor Michael Paul Murtagh echoed Cllr McGrath’s sentiments in terms of reliability. “People need reliability. They need to get to school and to their jobs. They need to know that when a bus is advertised to be servicing an area, it needs to arrive. You can put a million buses on, but if they don’t show up it is no good.”
In response Mr Williams acknowledged the reliability issues.
“With regards to the 220 we know there have been some reliability issues on the service. Our own belief for this is the chronic traffic levels we have experienced in Cork city since the return of schools. Traffic levels on Saturday and Sundays are as bad during peak as they are from Monday to Friday which causes us some operational issues when running the service through the city,” he said.
Mr Williams said other issues such as people not adhering to the bus only hours on Patrick Street and people parking in front of bus stops in the city centre are also affecting their services.
“Also, several bus stops in the city centre are being blocked by car users and further attention needs to be paid on the impact this has on bus users in the city. If a driver is unable to pull into the stop safely it puts them in a very difficult situation,” he added.
Mr Williams said Bus Éireann are in constant contact with the National Transport Authority (NTA) to drive improvements in the company.
“Every single service that we operate on behalf of the NTA we have a full suite of KPIs (key performance indicator) which include lost kilometres, punctuality, reliability, and safe driving. We also have several mystery shoppers who continuously travel on the Cork network who assist with our KPI delivery. All our targets are separated down by individual routes. We have constant liaison with the NTA to drive improvements. We will continue to keep working on that relationship to ensure the experience for the user is improved.”
Fine Gael councillor Jack White said there is a need for the company to adapt the service to cope with the increased traffic levels.
“Traffic volumes are now back to pre-Covid levels. There is a need to adapt the service in a dynamic way to be able to cope with the volume and to engage with the City Council as a matter of urgency to address the issues arising from Patrick Street.
"That isn’t policed properly, and it should be. The knock-on effect on the bus service is a serious enough consequence for them to address that in a meaningful way.”