- NTA casts doubt over plans but Minister Chambers committed
- Things remain positive but certainty required
Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling for certainty to be given as soon as possible on the advancement of an Ennis town bus service.
The service has been committed to already but the NTA has cast some doubt over the plans, pointing to funding difficulties.
Deputy Crowe arranged for Minister of State at the Department of Transport Jack Chambers to meet with officials in Clare this morning to discuss the matter.
“I was extremely concerned yesterday afternoon when I received an email from the National Transport Authority, outlining what they called a funding uncertainty for 2024 which means that – in their view – they are somewhat inhibited from advancing the procurement phase of a new Ennis town bus service,” said Deputy Crowe.
“I immediately contacted my colleague, Minister Jack Chambers, on receipt of this email, as he happened to be in Co. Clare today, and asked him to attend an early morning meeting with officials and elected members from Clare County Council, which he agreed to.
“This took place this morning in the Park Inn Hotel in Shannon and those in attendance included Mayor of Ennis Pat Daly, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy, Cllr Mary Howard, Cllr Paul Murphy, Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne and Senator Timmy Dooley.
“The council was represented by Carmel Kirby, director of services, and Eamon O’Dea.
“The Minister explained that in the recent Budget passed by the Dáil, there is a €10m fund allocated to his department for new bus routes and he will be meeting with the NTA in the next few weeks to discuss the spending of this sum.
“I am confident that this will lead to a good outcome for Ennis, but yet we need certainty on this as soon as possible.
“Ennis, with a population closing in on 30,000, is the largest town in Munster, with lofty ambitions to grow enterprise and retail in the town, underpinned by the motorway network between two major cities and a nearby international airport.
“The technological university campus also brings a lot of young people into the town.
“If we are to encourage more people to look to Ennis as a place to live and do business, and moreover to leave the car at home and opt for public transport, we will need a decent transport network here.
“Draft plans for the service include two routes – one travelling east-west and one going north-south, with both wrapping around the town centre.
“It is anticipated that the total initial cost would be in the region of €800,000 which breaks down as approximately €400,000 per route.
“I hope that Minister Chambers will have a successful outcome to his meeting with the NTA and that we very soon start hearing about where and how this €10m fund will be spent.
“I am hopeful that Ennis will be a major beneficiary of this fund and that we remain on course to deliver an Ennis town bus service by 2025.”