Community bus service must be saved

Sian Moloughney

Sian Moloughney

A rural bus service that is used by elderly people attending hospital appointments and young people on courses in Clonmel is in danger of being stopped at the end of January and leaving its passengers with no way of getting in to town - for the first time in 54 years.

A campaign has begun to try and save the bus route that is run cross-country between Urlingford and Clonmel by the well known Kavanagh’s bus company, who say the route is losing money and cannot be sustained.

At this week’s meeting of South Tipperary County Council, one member, Cllr Eddie O’Meara, raised the issue, describing it as “vital service” for the people of The Commons, Ballingarry, Mullinahone, Drangan, Cloneen and Killusty. Its loss will be another loss to rural communities, he said.

Passengers were notified last Friday that the service, which has been running since 1958, will cease on January 28.

However now Cllr O’Meara has spear-headed a plan to link the local bus company with the Ring-a-link service, in the hope some cooperative route can be established.

At Monday’s County Council meeting he called on Council Chairman Michael Fitzgerald to take up the cause, which he agreed to do and will make contact with Ring-a-link.

The loss of this route would be “a huge loss to the people, especially elderly people.” Cllr O’Meara said the current bus service is flexible and vital to the areas, but accepts it is losing money.

There was cross-party support for the course of action suggested by Cllr O’Meara.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr O’Meara said he accepted the route is not used as much as everyone would like but it is a vital service.

The bus route goes to and from Urlingford to Clonmel twice a day. “It effectively means there will be no public bus service of any description in this area,” the councillor said.

Following the meeting County Secretary John O’Mahoney wrote to both Kavanaghs and Ring-a-link making a formal offer from the Council Chairman that he is willing to act as a mediator to try and find a solution.