Press Release: BusesPosted 19 May. 2016
"Fine Gael Cllr. Alan Tobin amended his own motion that was subsequently passed at the Ashbourne Municipal District meeting on Monday 16th of May, which seeks to invite Michael Warnock of the NTA to attend the next Municipal District meeting in June. The motion originally called for Bus Éireann to revert back to the old 103, 105 and 189 services that had been adequately servicing Ashbourne for a number of years. However, following consultation with bus users in attendance at the last meeting in the Donaghmore-Ashbourne GAA club, Cllr. Tobin modified the motion with the intention of postponing the call for scrappage of the scheme in favour of trying to sort out specific problems and issues related to the changes.
Cllr. Tobin explained, “We received lots of feedback from bus users at meetings and through the ‘East Meath and North Dublin Bus Users’ Facebook page. It is clear that many people are in fact happy with the changes. However, there are a number of serious issues surrounding the current service and many would like to see increased frequency of some of the services; particularly the 103X. I have amended the motion to instead ask Mr. Warnock to attend our next meeting so that he can listen to these problems. I want to see what he can do to help solve them. Mr. Warnock is in charge of operating licenses, so is directly involved with the decisions made with regards to any change in Bus Éireann services.
“Some bus users have reported issues such as persistent bus lateness that has resulted in their jobs being affected. While this is infuriating enough on its own, something that I take personal exception to is the fact that the buses no longer go past the school for the blind on the Whitworth road, or the school for the deaf on the Navan road. This is a blatant disregard for disability accessibility, furthers social isolation with regards to the disabled and impacts negatively upon their independence.
“On that note, it has come to my attention that wheelchair users now have to contact Bus Eireann on a daily basis and enquire as to whether there are any buses available on the route to accommodate them (due mostly in part to the overuse of private coaches that cannot facilitate wheelchairs). If there are no suitable buses on the route on that particular day, that person cannot avail of the facility and are effectively made prisoners within their own homes. This is beyond unacceptable; it beggars belief how a service could be so ignorant to the needs of the disabled in 2016, and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“Another main issue I wish to address is that of fares; I want to initiate a process that looks at the fares charged on the Ashbourne route and start the discussion as to their justification so that we can hopefully get them revised. It incenses me that Ashbourne and the surrounding area bus users are paying 40% more than bus users on similar routes. This is especially ironic considering how non user- friendly the service is, how badly affected many bus users in north of Ashbourne and south of the R135 are, and how distinct the lack of disability services or accessibility is on the private coaches that dominate these routes. The least that could be done for Ashbourne and the surrounding areas is to be given a service that we were promised; one that is above all reliable and does not discriminate against the disabled”.