JJ Kavanagh Bus Service
Communities in Laois are facing a major of public transport with the news that JJ Kavanagh and Son's bus service is to dramatically cut its service to Dublin Limerick route.
The company is to make radical changes to its services which will bring an end to stops in villages through Laois, Offaly, Tipperary and Limerick.
Buses serving Mountrath, Castletown, Pike of Rushall, Borris in Ossory are due to end on April 16. Eight daily services are set to be cut with the communities relying on local link services.
Drivers have begun telling customers in recent days. From the middle of April the Kilkenny-based company will only stop at Portlaoise, Roscrea, Nenagh, on the route between the two cities.
This will hit people making short journeys to local bigger towns and others who have to travel to cities for work or education.
Laois TDs Sean Fleming and Brian Stanley have hit out at the cuts.
Read also: KILKENNY COMPANY EXPLAINS REASONS FOR CUTS
Dep Fleming called for an immediate replacement bus service.
"This action will have a devastating effect on people who depend on these buses on a daily basis unless alternative arrangements are put in place as urgently as possible," he said in a statement.
Deputy Fleming is highly critical of the secret process by the National Transport Authority who approved this change in service and also Laois County Council who gave approval from a traffic safety point of view regarding the bus stop changes.
"This secret process must be brought to an end. Public Bodies who are making changes that effect the public must be obliged to engage in public consultation before they make their decisions," said the Fianna Fáil TD.
He said has been in contact with the National Transport Authority and Laois Trip Ltd. who operate the Local Link Bus Service demanding that a full replacement service is put in place.
"I am hopeful that the NTA will request JJ Kavanagh to continue to operate this service on a temporary basis until the new arrangements are put in place, which will take some time due to the tendering process involved etc. I have spoken directly to JJ Kavanaghs who will not be changing their position as it a commercial decision for them.
"The NTA have already amended their licence to prevent them continuing the service through Borris-in-Ossory, Pike-of-Rushall, Castletown and Mountrath into the future.
He said he would raise the cuts in the Dáil in the coming days as it is essential that vital services in rural areas be maintained.
"People who live in rural areas are entitled to the same quality of service as people who live in the major towns and cities.
"I will be insisting that the replacement bus service covers the entire route through the local towns and villages from Portlaoise to Roscrea and back. Many people use the bus service in these areas to go in and out to Portlaoise but a number of people use it to go in and out to Roscrea on a regular basis. I am also asking Slieve Bloom Coaches who operate the Town Link Services to increase their bus service on these routes now that Kavanaghs are withdrawing," he said.
Dep Stanley described the move as "another blow" Laois.
“The huge loss of 8 daily services through the towns, leaves these areas without any connecting bus to Kildare, Dublin City and Dublin Airport. These services are well used and will have a major effect on people who have weekly and monthly tickets.
"If these service cuts go ahead the only service going through these towns from April 16 will be Townlink, which offers 3 services per day. This is not enough as these towns are growing and need at least the full eight services," he said.
The Sinn Féin TD said has made representations to the CEO of the National Roads Authority on this matter.