Supporting Local News

New double-deckers will sate increased demand

Bus Éireann plans to deploy two double-decker coaches to help sate soaring demand for buses to and from Galway and South Conamara.

It has been confirmed to Fianna Fáil Local Election candidate, Daragh Ó Tuairisg that the second-hand coaches will come on stream on the busy 424 route from Galway to Leitir Mealláin via An Cheathrú Rua.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Jack Chambers, has confirmed to Bearna-based Ó Tuairisg that deployment of two older coach-style double-decker buses will help to ease pressure on the service.

One of the coaches was currently getting a new engine fitted in Naas; and the other has already been trialled on the 424-bus route as part of an ongoing ‘thorough risk assessment’.

Mr Ó Tuairisg said he welcomed the news that these buses – which had been deployed for years on commuter routes between Dublin and Kildare – would soon be seen on the R336 Coast Road. One of them was on the route last week.

They can carry 88 passengers, double the capacity of single-decker coaches currently operating on the route.

But he said he would be pushing for new coaches to replace these second-hand ones, once they are operational.

Currently, he said, Bus Éireann had deployed a double-decker bus to the 424 route that was not suitable on rural roads.

It hadn’t seatbelts installed – unlike the coaches that are on the way – and was suited for urban areas only as it was not suitable for travelling at speeds in excess of 65km/h.

The planned second-hand double-decker coaches promised “greater accessibility and efficiency for passengers” he said.

But it was “important to be cognisant of the ongoing need for newer and fit-for-service vehicles for the people of South Conamara. As demand for public transportation continues to grow, it is imperative that resources are allocated to ensure that Galway’s bus fleet remains modern, reliable, and capable of meeting the needs of its passengers,” Mr Ó Tuairisg added.

Figures reported in the Connacht Tribune last month confirmed an explosion of demand on the 424, which was now the most popular Bus Éireann service in County Galway.

Almost 75,000 more passengers used the 424-service connecting South Conamara, including An Cheathrú Rua and Leitir Mealláin, with Galway City in 2023.

Buses on the Conamara to city route – which takes in Bearna, Na Forbacha, An Spidéal and Cois Fharraige – carried 329,210 passengers last year, up by almost 30%.

The previous year the 424 had experienced 24% growth in passengers compared with 2019, the last full year when Covid was not skewing figures.

Mr Ó Tuairisg said the 424 was often full when it gets to An Spidéal, Bearna and Na Forbacha, which was causing inconvenience to passengers.

“The frequency and capacity of buses seems insufficient to handle the surge in commuters during busy periods. This has led to longer wait times at bus stops, making it difficult for passengers to adhere to their schedules, as they get left behind when the bus is already full.

“It is crucial to address the growing demand during peak hours to ensure a smoother and more efficient commuting experience for passengers,” said Mr Ó Tuairisg.

He said he had lobbied Minister Chambers, Bus Éireann, Transport for Ireland and National Transport Authority on the subject.

Separately, Mr Ó Tuairisg has proposed extending the 401 and 402 city bus services to include stops in Bearna, to alleviate pressure on the 424.

These buses currently service Eyre Square to Salthill and Seacrest to Merlin Park and should be extended to Bearna, he said.

The 401 and 402 buses could continue out from Galway City to Bearna, turn right at Avough Road (Paint Box), and right again at the link road, coming back out onto the R336 at the 12 Hotel.

“This could be rolled out now,” he said.

Pictured: One of the refurbished double decker buses making its way through Conamara at the weekend.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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