REMOTE parts of West Cork are to be connected by buses for the first time, including Durrus and Kilcrohane, Mizen Head and Castletownshend, and Baltimore and Union Hall.
The plan is part of a five-year project by the National Transport Authority called ‘Connecting Ireland.’
It also provides for an inter-urban bus service which would operate between Skibbereen, Bantry and Killarney, while it is proposed to have more frequent services on the route serving Skibbereen to Cork, via Clonakilty and
The proposed new route from Mizen Head to Castletownshend will serve Goleen, Schull, Ballydehob and Skibbereen and have a minimum service of three return trips a day, while a new route from Dursey to Kilcrohane would serve Castletownbere, Glengarriff, Bantry and Durrus.
There’s also a proposal to extend route 253 from Clonakilty to Dunmanway, with a minimum of five return trips Monday to Saturday and three on Sunday. This will connect Dunmanway to Kinsale for the first time.
Cork South West Independent TD Michael Collins has welcomed the proposals, especially the new route for the peninsulas, but said he will have to look at the frequency of these services per day to see how successful they are going to be.
‘Public transport from rural communities is what is urgently needed to link in with national public transport, so that buses leaving the Beara or Mizen peninsulas are able to link up with West Cork Connect or Bus Éireann services. If this doesn’t happen, West Cork will remain decades behind in public transport in comparison to other parts of the country,’ said Deputy Collins.
Damien Long of West Cork Connect – which runs daily bus services between West Cork and Cork city – said the plan will only work if it’s done right from the start.
‘The idea on paper is great and I welcome the proposals, but for it to work effectively it needs to be discussed with the likes of us and other stakeholders,’ he said.
Damien also feels that there is ‘no joined-up thinking’ when it comes to the Local Link bus service and that it isn’t running to its full potential.
‘The times of these services may not suit some people and more importantly, the service doesn’t link up with the bus services that are operating from West Cork to Cork city.’
FF TD for Cork North West, Aindrias Moynihan welcomed the proposed route from Millstreet, Macroom and Bandon, but said it was ‘disappointing that the existing 233 bus route, serving the Macroom area, is not listed for improvements.’ Deputy Christopher O’Sullivan said he was ‘still pushing for more frequent bus services to areas such as Drinagh and Ardfield,’ but said the proposal was, nevertheless, ‘a strong start’.
The public are encouraged to consult the plans at nationaltransport.ie.