*Photograph: John Mangan
Mixed views have been expressed following the decision to pedestrianise Ennis’ main streets as part of the temporary mobility plan but according to Ennis Chamber it has heightened the need for a town bus service.
In order to accommodate social distancing, streets along the county town have been pedestrianised for the past three weeks. “Already it has highlighting how exposed we are as a town when it comes to parking and especially when it comes to public transport,” CEO of Ennis Chamber, Margaret O’Brien stated.
There is no set timeline on how long the mobility plan will remain in place. However Ennis Chamber have said they are committed “to ratcheting up our lobbying efforts to ensure the NTA (National Transport Agency) accedes to long-standing calls for the introduction of a town bus. Not only that, but we believe the time is right to convert the delay into an advantage by insisting that a future town bus for Ennis must be electric”.
Elected members of the Ennis Municipal District have expressed their agreement for the town bus in the past. On Wednesday, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) sought an update on the plans at their June meeting.
Town bus services to be introduced by the end of the year in Carlow, Mullingar and Letterkenny are referred to by O’Brien who flagged that all three “have smaller populations than Ennis. We can’t continue to allow the town lag behind in this respect. A town bus would help ease access to the town centre for town centre based staff, for shoppers, for the elderly and for those who are less mobile. In addition with an LIT campus now located in Ennis and set to grow in the future, we also have a student cohort who would benefit from such a service”.
Clare’s five Oireachtas members have been asked to publicly support the Chamber in their goal to secure an electric town bus service.
Ennis Chamber is currently conducting research among its members to determine the distance their employees travel to work on a daily basis. “Thus far we have found that over half travel more than 10kms, so for them walking or cycling is not an option, especially when we consider weather conditions and lack of lighting once you reach the fringes of town. What we need for that commuting cohort as well as for shoppers coming to Ennis are places on the periphery of town to park and to connect from there to a regular town bus service. We know the demand exists for such a service, and the time is right to provide it,” Margaret commented.