A County Councillor based in East Cork has slammed the “extortionate” bus rates that East Cork people are having to pay.
Cllr James O’Connor from Knockmonlea is calling on the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Bus Éireann to reduce their bus fares for East Cork.
Currently, it is cheaper for people to get from Cork city to Waterford than it is to get from Cork city to East Cork on Bus Éireann’s Route 40 service.
“I am calling on Bus Éireann and the National Transport Authority management to immediately launch a review into the unsustainably high fares that continue to be endured by public transport users in the East Cork region,” said Cllr O’Connor.
According to the Fianna Fáil Councillor, the Route 40 service from Cork to Waterford has disparate prices. “Honestly I feel like Bus Éireann and the NTA will charge what they like if someone doesn’t do something about it,” he told The Echo.
“An adult return bus fare from Dungarvan to Cork city, which is a distance of 75km, costs €9.50. An adult return ticket from Youghal to Cork City, which is only a 48km journey, is €19.”
Cllr O’Connor also says that travelling from Dungarvan to Cork city is cheaper than travelling from East Cork to Cork city, despite East Cork being closer. “Killeagh to Cork is €18.04, Castlemartyr to Cork is €15.10 and from Midleton to Cork is €11.40.”
“This is completely unjustified, and it is acting as a major deterrent to commuters taking an environmentally friendly option to travel to Cork City.”
“There is an enormous congestion problem in East Cork. There are constant traffic delays. This, along with the Dunkettle Interchange delay, is just unacceptable.”
Cllr O’Connor believes that 2019 Government funding, which was allocated to be spent on the now-delayed Dunkettle interchange, should be redirected to increasing capacity on Cork’s bus network.
“The services we have are full, and already expensive for East Cork people. The fact the bus is so cheap from Waterford means by the time people are getting on the bus in East Cork, it is already full.”
Cllr O’Connor is one of the youngest local representatives in the country at 22 years of age. He is still attending Trinity College in Dublin and says that students, in particular, depend on buses.
“Students rely on this bus service to get to college [in Cork city] if they can’t afford accommodation and are commuting.”
Cllr O’Connor put forward a motion on Monday, September 2 at a municipal district meeting, calling for fare reductions. “This was passed unanimously by councillors representing the Midleton LEA. This motion has been referred for further discussion to Cork County Council,” he added.
The young councillor is hoping the internet will help spread awareness of his campaign. “I am launching an online petition [on change.org] to the NTA and I hope that the general public will support this initiative.”
When contacted for comment, the NTA, who decides the fare prices, said: “Issues such as those, can be addressed in our annual National Fare Determination that will be published later this year.”