Age Action has expressed concern at planned cuts by Bus Eireann to a number of its Expressway routes, and the impact these changes would have on older people who use the services.
The company confirmed yesterday that it was planning to reschedule the number of stops served on route 7 (Dublin-Cork) and remove route 5 (Dublin-New Ross -Waterford). It said that some routes were incurring substantial losses and were unsustainable.
“The ending of routes and stops would have a huge impact on older people who have no other form of transport and who depend on these services to collect pensions, do their shopping, attend medical appointments and do the other basics of everyday living,” Age Action spokesperson Eamon Timmins said.
“It is vital that a social impact assessment be carried out as part of the review process, to understand the human impact of these proposed changes” he said. “There must be more to the decision-making process than just financial cost. It is not sufficient for Bus Eireann just to discuss the proposed changes with the National Transport Authority to assess the service needs of an area. Other transport providers may not accept the travel pass which older people depend on to get around. In such circumstances, older people may not be able to afford the services provided by alternative transport firms.”
Age Action has urged all parties concerned to ensure that the specific transport needs of older people are considered before any decision is made to change Bus Eireann’s service. Public transport is far more important to older people than to other sections of the adult population, with just 40% of men aged over-80 still holding a driver’s licence, and just 15% of women of over-80.
“If we are to plan for our ageing population we must ensure we have a transport system which enables older people to get out and about,” Mr Timmins said.