Bus Éireann's decision to proceed with the cutting of its service between Dublin and Limerick through Laois, Kildare and Tipperary has been labelled an absolute disgrace by Laois and Minister of State Sean Fleming.
The Fianna Fáil TD TD was furious with Ireland's 'national bus company' for pulling X12 Expressway from the end of January.
Bus Éireann gave just one week's notice that the service would end on Friday, January 29. The said the confirmation follows the announcement last September that the route was to be terminated, in response to the "significant medium-term challenges" posed by Covid-19 and in order to safeguard Expressway’s remaining national routes, as well as to meet the demand required on other city and commuter services.
“Expressway’s X12 service between Dublin and Limerick has incurred unsustainable losses due to the impact of Covid-19”, said Eleanor Farrell, Chief Commercial Officer, Bus Éireann, “Consolidating our Expressway network and withdrawing from this service will allow us to make important investments into our remaining routes. This decision will allow us to continue improving our customer experience on our overall network, providing a platform for future growth, despite current Covid19 challenges,” she said.
But the Minister of State in the Department of Finance branded the decision "an absolute disgrace". In a statement, Minister Fleming said he has requested a commitment from the company that they will re-instate this route to its normal capacity after the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
"Currently this route from Dublin to Limerick goes through Portlaoise six times a day and the route from Limerick to Dublin goes through Portlaoise 5 times a day. Major towns with populations of approximately 30,000 like Portlaoise and other major towns like Roscrea and Nenagh must have a national bus service.
"It is inconceivable that a national bus company would not have an inter-city bus service between Dublin and Limerick. If it cannot provide this service it is not fit for purpose and should not be considered a national bus company any further.
"I have contacted the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan T.D., saying it is Government policy to promote public transport and the idea that everybody should get off the busses and drive to Dublin every day for work or do their business is not the way forward.
"The Minister must contact Bus Eireann and get a commitment that this service will be fully restored when it is safe to do so from a public health point of view," said Deputy Fleming.
Met Éireann says updated service details and timetables will be available at www.buseireann.ie and www.expressway.ie.