North Cork Independent Cllr. John Paul O’ Shea has said the recent announcement from the Government to axe the operating of the rural transport service in North Cork with the loss of local jobs must be “fought for and retained”.
IRD Duhallow & Avondhu Blackwater Partnership LTD have both operated rural transport services since 2003 in the Duhallow & Avondhu regions of North Cork. The aim of this service is to provide an integrated accessible and affordable public transport service that links individuals living in rural communities with local services and facilities. It is used by young and old on a weekly basis carrying in excess of 90,000 passengers annually throughout North Cork. It has been confirmed in recent days that the contract for the entire county has now been awarded to West Cork Rural Transport Scheme, based in Bantry who will commence operating the countywide service from March 31st 2014.
Commenting on the announcement, Cllr. John Paul O’ Shea (Ind) said “the loss of contracts to operate the rural transport service for both IRD Duhallow and Avondhu Blackwater Partnership is a devastating blow for North Cork. I have always said that the county of Cork is too large for one rural transport service. It needs to be divided up on a divisional basis like the county council is for operational and local knowledge purposes. It will be extremely hard, if not impossible to operate a service such as the rural transport from any one location in the county”.
Cllr. O’ Shea is calling for the government to request the National Transport Authority (NTA) to reconsider their decision to allocate the rural transport service to only one company in Cork and at the very least, consider two companies and two operational areas for this service. Cllr. O’ Shea added “The size and geographics of the county of Cork is very different compared to other counties and I would have a serious concern that the people of North Cork will be forgotten about in this process. There was a great sense of local involvement in the existing service with local bus and taxi companies who know the local area operating the routes and local staff managing and assisting passengers. This will all be lost come March and the users of the rural transport service will be the losers, there is no doubt about this”.
IRD Duhallow & Avondhu Blackwater Partnership delivers many local vital services, including the operation of the rural transport service and I can only see this as another attack on these companies and a further dilution of their current services. Cllr. O’ Shea added “This government is threatening the very existence of these local companies by withdrawing services such as the rural transport. Communities right across North Cork have benefited greatly from services provided by IRD Duhallow & Avondhu Blackwater Partnership which has helped significantly in the development and involvement of many people in our villages and towns over the years who may have been socially and/or geographically isolated over the years. The government cannot be left change a proven tried and tested system which is working so efficiently. We must as a community resist these changes and fight for the retention of a rural transport service operating from a North Cork base into the future”