Sean Fleming said that the decision CIE implemented at the weekend to bypass Abbeyleix, Durrow and Johnstown on the Dublin to Cork bus route is a major insult to these towns.
Martin Nolan the Chief Executive of Bus Eireann attended a meeting in Durrow on Friday evening on the issue.
When questioned by Deputy Fleming what is the time saved by the bus in travelling the motorway from Portlaoise to Urlingford instead of going the existing route through Abbeyleix, Durrow and Johnstown, Martin Nolan responded that the saving in time is 5-minutes.
Deputy Fleming said it is a disgrace that the Chief Executive of one of the most subsidised semi-state companies in the Country implied that Abbeyleix, Durrow and Johnstown are not worth 5-minutes. Deputy Fleming said that if this is how Bus Eireann conducts their business there needs to be a full review of the attitude of senior management towards their paying customers.
Deputy Fleming is also critical of the lack of openness and transparency in relation to this decision and the fact that the public have not been publically informed of this decision which has already been implemented. The “Fob-Off” by Bus Eireann to run a shuttle bus along this route for the next 6 weeks is totally un-acceptable and Bus Eireann is clear when the 6-weeks are up they will withdraw this service also.
Deputy Fleming has called on the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar T.D. and the National Transport Authority to ensure that a public service obligation is attached to the routes through these towns to ensure that there will be a service for the public in these areas in future.
Deputy Fleming has also called on the National Transport Authority not to grant the new licence to Bus Eireann which they currently have applied for to also cut the services through Mountrath and Borris-in-Ossory on the Dublin to Limerick route. There is also secrecy about this application and nobody is being informed of the details.
Deputy Fleming said if Bus Eireann gets away with by-passing all these towns in Co. Laois and in Kilkenny the public will be entitled to ask what is the point in having such a bus service in the Country at all if it does not provide service to local communities.
Finally, Deputy Fleming also highlighted what is the point in giving senior citizens and others bus passes in Co. Laois if the national bus company are withdrawing their services from most of the County.