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Ballinhassig to be ‘abandoned’ as bus connection ceases

April 25th, 2024 12:00 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Ballinhassig to be ‘abandoned’ as bus connection ceases Image
When replaced by a more direct route to the city centre, the Kinsale Connect service will remove stops for MTU, UCC and CUH. (Photo: John Allen)

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A NEW direct route to Cork city by Kinsale Connect will remove student and patients’ direct access to colleges and hospitals on the western side of Cork city.

The issue was raised by Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) at a meeting of the Western Divisional Meeting on Monday, but Senator Tim Lombard (FG) also expressed his concern.

Sen Lombard said he has written to the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Department of Transport seeking clarification.

Sen Lombard claimed Ballinhassig is to be ‘abandoned’ by Kinsale Connect and that the route into Cork University Hospital through Kinsale, Belgooly and Five Mile Bridge will no longer be part of the 228 route.

When replaced by a more direct route to the city centre, SenLombard said the Kinsale Connect service will remove stops for MTU, UCC and CUH.

He said this will result in students and patients having to make further travel arrangements to cross the city to the western side.

Cllr Murphy described the change as ‘grossly unfair.’ And with parking being such a monumental problem in the city, Cllr Marie O’Sullivan (FG) said retention of the existing service would be very important.

Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) said having two bus services – Bus Éireann and Kinsale Connect – taking the airport road isn’t going to help people get to the western side of the city.

A reply from the NTA to Sen Lombard last January, stated: ‘Dave Long Coach Travel (West Cork Connect) is currently licensed to serve Ballinhassig Village. Should West Cork Connect wish to change the current situation they will need to do that by submitting an amendment to alter the current licence. The authority does not comment on the existence or otherwise, or progress of any live applications.’

Damien Long confirmed to The Southern Star that his company received notification of the new licence last Thursday but, pending confirmation, the new service won’t be operational until the May Bank Holiday weekend.

‘Despite our best intentions and considerable efforts to sustain the current Route 228 service, the passenger numbers have consistently fallen well below the operational threshold needed to maintain financial viability,’ he said.

‘Unfortunately, the service has been incurring significant losses, which, coupled with our ongoing overheads, including staff wages, fuel and vehicle maintenance etc, have made it unsustainable.’

The bus operator also described the Western Road in the evening time as being ‘like a car park’ with little or no traffic movement for 25 minutes or more.

‘Passengers were complaining but it was the road layout changes made in 2022 that have caused major delays on the Western Road and Wilton.

‘While the regrettable decision to alter the existing 228 route will affect some passengers, we are, however, excited to announce that the revised Route 228 will be a faster 30-minute service, directly connecting Kinsale to Cork City without travelling to Cork Airport,’ he said.

‘In all the years no one ever had done anything for the people of Ballinhassig – no politicians, no one. We are a small family-run business, we took the risk and tried it but unfortunately for us it didn’t work. And, for the record, we, as a company, get zero State funding.’

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