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Bus times ‘cannot be trusted’: Elderly commuters and children going to school left waiting



Bus times ‘cannot be trusted’: Elderly commuters and children going to school left waiting

Cancelled buses, late buses, and ‘ghost’ buses have been criticised by Cork public transport users, with some calling the network “absolutely unfit for purpose”.

Eighty-two pages of complaints to the National Transport Authority (NTA) about the 202, 203, 205, 214, 215, 220, and 225 bus routes over an 18 month period were released to The Echo under the Freedom of Information Act.

People called the bus routes “diabolical” and “an absolute disgrace”.

“I’m driving from now on as I cannot trust the service,” one wrote.

“I missed a very important meeting due to this pitiful service,” another wrote.

One mother shared: “The 220 was overcrowded, right behind it was another bus also overcrowded. My son and the rest of the children were not taken to school, and as a result, they were late,” she said, adding: “This is not the first time”.

The 214 was the most complained-about service, with one person saying: “This bus gets consistently cancelled”.

Another complained: “We are late getting to work in the mornings and we are left waiting for hours in the evening for a bus to take us home”.

One said that they had spent hundreds of euro in two weeks on taxis: “Over the last two weeks, I have had to use a taxi in order to arrive to work on time eight times — spending in excess of €250.

“That is paired with the many additional times when working in the city — when the last two buses in the evening had left me stranded at midnight — left trying to decide whether I choose between safely returning home at a premium of €30+ or waiting on a dark street without lights or a seat at the stop.”

Many raised the issue of elderly people left waiting for various bus services, with one person saying: “Elderly commuters are being left in the dark and the cold in early morning to get to their appointments in CUH with not even a seat.”

Another wrote: “As an 81-year-old pensioner with mobility issues, I use the bus every day. Some weekdays, I am waiting between 40 and 50 minutes for a service that is supposed to operate every 15 minutes.

“I depend on the bus to get my shopping, but I have lost all confidence in them — if Bus Éireann cannot operate a reliable service, the service should be given to another operator.”

The late and cancelled buses received plenty of complaints, but the “ghost buses” were the subject of the majority of criticism.

One person stated: “Surely, if the phantom bus didn’t exist it shouldn’t be showing on the app or the display. That’s the kind of thing that loses you customers.”

Another called it “a persistent, ongoing problem that is a constant source of frustration and ruined plans”.

“Knowing a bus is delayed or cancelled is something you can plan around,” they said. “You can’t plan around a no-show that says it’s scheduled to arrive on time, which shows live updates on the signs and the app, but which is giving you false information.

“It wastes your time waiting for something that will never come and actively prevents you from taking other options.

“Imagine a friend who agrees to meet you in 30 minutes, then after that time passes they tell you they’ll arrive in another two minutes.

“Then, after another two, they say they’re due to arrive right now. Then they cease all contact and don’t appear.

“They do this every other time you arrange to meet.

“This terrible person wouldn’t be your friend for long. Yet, this experience is constant on Bus Éireann services in Cork,” they said, adding that it is “an utterly miserable experience that should not happen”.

A spokesperson for Bus Éireann told The Echo: “Bus Éireann carries out over 295,000 passenger journeys per week in Cork city, under contract with the National Transport Authority, across 25 routes and 10,693 scheduled services weekly,” adding that routes, schedules, frequency, fleet, and fares are set by the NTA.

They highlighted issues with congestion due to “limited bus prioritisation,” saying “congestion means delays to services and can have a knock-on effect on the service”.

Issues in relation to motorists illegally blocking bus lanes or vehicles parking at bus stops are common in Cork, and they said that they are engaging with the authorities on the issue.

Driver recruitment is also a big issue, and the spokesperson highlighted actions they are taking to address it — including driver information and open days, a B to D driver training school, and several advertising campaigns.

“Following completion of the works due to take place on Patrick St and Grand Parade this summer, a review of several services will be undertaken,” the spokesperson added.

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