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25 May 2022

Long wait ahead for a Portlaoise bus town service

Long wait  for a Portlaoise bus as timeline given to launch daily town daily service

The saying goes 'you wait ages for a bus to come, then two come together', but the wait will continue for Portlaoise.

The rapidly expanding commuter town is on track to get its own bus service, but Laois County Council estimates it will not be in operation for nearly two more years.

Portlaoise Town Manager Simon Walton gave his timeline estimate at the February meeting of Portlaoise Muncipal District, as he gave an update on the progress to launch the bus service.

"A similar service rolled out in Kilkenny. Carlow and Graiguecullen recently tendered for an operator and they intend to open by the end of 2022, to give a timescale. From my perspective, assuming the NTA continue to fund this, realistically it will be towards the end of 2023 by the time this is operational, and that is with a fair wind," Mr Walton said.

He outlined how many buses will run in Portlaoise when it gets going.

"There will be two routes with 35 to 40 stops. There will be four buses from 7am to 10pm. 

"The news is positive. The National Transport Authority is agreeing to Laois County Council tendering to appoint a design team to design the bus stops in locations. There are two further tenders required to implement this service. The first is a contractor to deliver the bus stops. The third is directly a matter for the NTA, to appoint an operator," the town manager said.

He said that Laois County Council will get going to tender for the design team "straight away". 

He was responding to a motion asking for progress, by Cllr Thomasina Connell.

"All of us know how much we need a bus service in Portlaoise operating a couple of times a day every day. It still seems to be a town of car users. We have bike lanes but people need to change the culture and get out of cars. I asked the junior Minister of Transport and she anticipates it will be up and running by 2023, where are we at?" she had asked.

Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley supported her motion.

"I had similar motions a few times. Maybe five years back we had the NTA in here showing proposals for two bus routes. People in the likes of Bellingham are walking or cycling kilometers to get to the train station and Bus Eireann busses drive past them because there are no bus stops. A service would be a huge advantage for the whole town," she said.

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said that parents are driving over and back through the town ferrying children to sport and lessons. 

"The Abbeyleix road is the only one left out though, could it be included considering it has O'Moore Park and Togher?" she said.

Cllr Noel Tuohy meanwhile asks that when the bus shelters that installed that they don't face south east where "90% of the wind and rain comes from".

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