Local Link to only operate between Portlaosie and Roscrea
Inter city bus village stops in Laois will not be replaced on the Dublin to Limerick route, but an expanded local service is to operate connecting Portlaoise to Roscrea.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) is set to replace the private Kavanagh's and Sons service with an interim service with a view to a long term solution to the loss of the service between the two towns.
Kavanagh's had operated 13 services a day on the route from Monday to Sunday.
Under the changes, there will be a seven -day three daily services operated by Local Link.
The plan is for one stop in Roscrea and four in Portlaoise. Buses will serve Portlaoise hospital and train station.
There will also be stops in Borris-in-Ossory, Pike of Rushall, Castletown and Mountrath.
It is understood that the existing Town Link private service will continue to operate.
While the NTA says an interim solution has been found, the Local Link website carries a timetable similar to the long term solution proposed in the NTA's analysis of the impact of the ending of the Kavanagh's service.
The longer term contracted service is planned to be in place by June 2019.
The analysis found that local services must be maintained for Borris and Mountrath.
“The curtailment of services would have a severe negative impact on residents in both of these towns by reducing opportunities to access services in the larger settlements in the wider region,” it said. The NTA said a so-called public service obligation exists.
It found shortcomings with the existing Local Link and Town Link services. It said these could be addressed by expanding the Local Link service. However, it added that this must not have a negative impact on the private Town Link.
It found that the two key rural towns on the route must have services.
“It is evident that there is a significant number of education and work trips from Mountrath that have their destination in Portlaoise,” it said.
While Borris-in-Ossory has a smaller population, the NTA said it would be necessary to prioritise public transport access to and from Portlaoise and Roscrea.
The NTA did not commission independent research on the use of either existing local or intercity services. It relied on data from Census 2016. Kavanagh's also supplied information on a small sample of services between Mountrath / Borris-in-Ossory and Portlaoise / Kildare / Dublin.
The NTA decided that there is a low proportion of trips from Mountrath and Borris-in-Ossory that have Dublin and Limerick cities as destinations.
The authority decided that a new Local Link service should operate between Roscrea and Nenagh via Shinrone, Cloughjordan, Moneygall and Toomevara.
Kavanagh's reduced Dublin - Limerick service stops in Kildare Village, Portlaoise, Roscrea and Nenagh from April 16.