Angry villagers stop bus in protest at route closures

Locals in Kilrickle, Co Galway, vow to escalate actions against Bus Éireann over service

Bus Éireann said its buses pick up the equivalent of one passenger in Kilrickle for every five journeys through the village Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Bus Éireann said its buses pick up the equivalent of one passenger in Kilrickle for every five journeys through the village Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Protesters who disrupted a bus service through a county Galway village have said they will escalate their action to cover other locations.

Two Bus Éireann Expressway services through the village of Kilrickle were stopped on Monday morning on the first day of a new timetable. Some 100 locals with placards gathered to await the arrival of the 8.30am bus from Galway.

Kilrickle and 10 other villages were dropped from Bus Éireann’s new timetable for the 20 and 20X buses.

The other villages in question are Oranmore, Dubarry (Ballinasloe) Ballydangan, Horseleap, Tyrrellspass, Rochfortsbrige, Milltownpass, Clonard and Moyvalley.

Save Our Stops Kilrickle spokeswoman Jackie Flannery said the decision by Bus Éireann to no longer serve several villages on the Dublin-Galway route was “an attack on rural Ireland”.

Ms Flannery said she spends €5,000 a year commuting by bus from Kilrickle to Athlone where she works. “I am entitled to a service and so are others. Are we not entitled to a service? We want it back,” she said. “This decision affects students, OAPs, people going for hospital appointments both to Galway and Ballinasloe, people going shopping and people going to work.”

She called on the Government to provide Public Service Obligation funding for the routes in question. Locals in Kilrickle have gathered 700 signatories against the decision by Bus Éireann.

Ms Flannery said protesters want Minister for Transport Shane Ross to intervene. “Monday’s protests are only the beginning, there will be lightning strikes throughout the affected areas until we get a commitment to restore a service to these rural stops,” she said.

In response, Bus Éireann spokeswoman Nicola Cooke said route 20 was one of 18 inter-city expressway services and those routes received no public subsidy.

She said the company had done extensive research into the routes in question and added that its buses pick up the equivalent of one passenger in Kilrickle for every five journeys through the village.

She said changes have to be made as a result of “very low passenger demand” and that Bus Éireann was competing on a busy route against several private operators.