THE Department of Transport has defended its announcement on almost 70 new bus routes nationally following an online backlash that not enough were in Donegal.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD announced 67 new or enhanced bus routes under the Connecting Ireland programme. They will be rolled out before the end of the year at a cost €8.5 million. Mr Ryan described the
Connecting Ireland programme as “a revolution in public transport in our country and we’re only warming up,” adding that the main constraint on rolling out the programme is recruiting new bus drivers. Minister Ryan tweeted a video introducing the new routes, which caused a stir locally with many taking to Twitter to voice their upset and outrage that Donegal and the wider north west appeared to have been left out.
One person tweeted their anger for people who have to travel from Donegal for life-saving cancer treatment.
“Once again, Donegal subject to complete infrastructural abandonment and neglect. Given that people regularly travel to Galway, Cork and Dublin to access oncology, neurological and other medical services, the failure to provide sustainable infrastructure is shameful.”
Another person said bus routes and transport are vital in order for access to education.
“Is this a joke? What about Donegal? Bus routes don’t just pose a trip to local shops, they are access to healthcare, social networks and education. This video is the perfect picture to visualise the widening health inequalities in rural vs. urban Ireland.”
In another tweet, a person wrote: “Is this a joke? I live and work for the HSE in Donegal. I pay the same tax as my colleagues working in Dublin or Limerick, yet there is no bus/rail/motorway to avail of?”
Letterkenny Athletic Club tweeted: “Same old story as regards Donegal. Throw them a few crumbs. But then why should we be surprised? Same as it ever was?”
Another tweeter told of how his son has to work over the border because of cost and lack of infrastructure.
“It’s cheaper and easier for my son to go to work 26km across the border than it is to go to work ten minutes down the N13. How is that ok?”
In a statement to the Donegal News, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport said the Department is this year focused on improving connectivity in Letterkenny and across the county.
“Among the routes mentioned was one in the Inishowen peninsula. In fact we are optimistic that we will be able to go beyond that this year and provide significantly improved connectivity on an east-west axis between Greencastle and Buncrana, and on a north-south axis between Malin and Derry.
“This year we are also looking to improve connectivity between Derry, Letterkenny and Donegal and between Killybegs and Donegal. This is in addition to the services implemented as part of Connecting Ireland Phase 1 in 2022.
“These included a new route catering for commuters into Letterkenny from Ballyshannon and additional Sunday services from Greencastle to Letterkenny.
“Further new and enhanced routes will be announced for Donegal as part of the Connecting Ireland project as implementation progresses.”
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