Bus Eireann services for Athy are under review, with traffic congestion so bad in the south Kildare town that the company is considering service cancellations.
Speaking at the February 20 Athy Area meeting , Bus Eireann manager Adrian O’Loughlin said the traffic congestion in Athy was appalling. “Our drivers report huge delays travelling in and out of Athy. Buses are stuck in the town 20, 30 sometimes 45 minutes.” He said these delays were affecting the service in terms of punctionality, reliability and comfort. He added the bus provider was currently looking at alternatives, taking into account passenger numbers and traffic delays. “Our end-to-end passenger is our priority and we pick up very few passengers in Athy.”
Bus Eireann currently has six Dublin commuter services in the town from 6.45am to 8.45pm.
In addition, the bus provider said it is very unlikely it will re-instate the Castledermot to Dublin Route as it was not “commercially viable”.
The route was cancelled shortly after Christmas. “It was racking up more and more losses,” Mr O’Loughlin explained. “There is an expectation that every town in Ireland should have a bus service but at the end of the day we need to turn a profit.”
This news comes amid confirmation that the much-awaited Southern Distributory Route (SDR) has missed out on funding for 2012. “In the absence of funding it is not possible to progress this scheme any further at this time,” a KCC report this week noted.
Athy has been waiting more than three decades for funding for this project. The designs works and compulsory purchase order plans are completed, but the project is now at a standstill. With an estimated price tag of €34m, the bypass divided the town for several years, resulting in court actions over the proposed inner relief road.
Ironically at the town council meeting last week, it was agreed Meeting Lane Carpark, the location of the proposed inner relief road, is now set to be a stakeboard park. Plans are afoot to progress this, with the council seeking funding under the RAPID programme.
Speaking to the Leader, Cathaoirleach Cllr Richard Daly said the cut to the Castledermot service was disappointing. “We have been promised that it will be reviewed again and if the demand is there, Bus Eireann will re-instate it. Traffic has been issue for Athy for A long, long time.
“We are looking at installing sensors on commuter buses that could sequence the traffic lights better.
“That is the best we can do until our number comes up for SDR funding. It is still a top priority for Kildare County Council but in real terms only €120m was allocated for all projects in the country. We will continue to keep lobbying.”