Bus service for Carlow 'very likely' to proceed as NTA await confirmation of funding

Fares for the bus service also revealed as NTA 'hopeful' of delivering project before 2021

Darren Hassett

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Darren Hassett

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news@carlowlive.ie

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Bus service due to be set up in Carlow Town

A €3 million bus service for Carlow Town is "very likely" to proceed as the National Transport Authority are awaiting confirmation of funding, it has been revealed. 

Fares for the Carlow Town Bus Service have also been outlined as representatives from the NTA say they are "hopeful" of delivering the project before 2021.

Marian Wilson and Ed Rhys Thomas from the NTA gave a presentation to members at this month's Carlow Municipal District meeting. 

It was the first time the NTA spoke to local representatives about the project since May of 2018. 

Speaking on Wednesday, Ms Wilson said there have been works going on in the background and it "takes over a year from going out to the market" to get the bus service on the ground but they haven't gone to the market yet. 

The NTA and local authority staff have been assessing and photographing bus stops along the red and green routes. 

"Before we can start, we need confirmation of funding," she added and also warned that any legal challenges over the locations of bus stops could also slow the process. 

Cllr Fintan Phelan said he was concerned as there had never been an issue raised about funding previously. 

Ms Wilson said all NTA projects are "subject to the availability of funding and there has just been a Brexit budget". 

"There's been a little bit more tightening of the budget for new public transport services. It's very likely it [the Carlow Town Bus Service project] will proceed. It is very high up as a priority," she added. 

Cllr John Cassin said members were meant to feel like the "only pebble on the beach" when they last got a presentation from the NTA. 

He added: "€3m is not going to make difficulties for the country if it's costing that. Will Brexit stop the bus service in Carlow, will it break the EU?"

Cllr Cassin asked for a commitment from the NTA as to when the project will start. 

However, Ms Wilson said: "I can't. The expectation is to go to the market for a service provider in 2020 and scheduled for delivery in 2021.

"We're hopeful to do slightly better than that timeframe." 

Cllr Cassin said news that the project is expected to be delivered by 2021 is "extremely disappointing". 

During that presentation they revealed that the fares for an adult using either of the two routes would be €2 for an adult single cash fare which would be €1.40 on the Leap card. 

A child single will cost €1.20 or 84 cents on the Leap card. 

The bus service will have turnaround facilities at The Dome, Tyndall College, MSD and the Wexford Business Park. 

Cllr Cassin welcomed the cost for people using the service but hit out that it's not serving residents in John Sweeney Park.

Cllr Ken Murnane said there were 5,000 residents in Graiguecullen who also wouldn't be serviced by either of the routes. 

The NTA said it was not possible to service John Sweeney Park due to difficulties in getting the bus in and out despite almost 20% of the population of Carlow Town living there. 

It was previously reported that the new Carlow bus service development plans had moved on and the service was ready to go to tender.

The NTA gave a commitment to members to come back before them in six months.