A bus service in Clare’s county town has been identified as a target for the Ennis 2040 plan.
Director of Physical Development with Clare County Council, Carmel Kirby revealed that the local authority was looking at a town bus service as part of Ennis 2040. “We do need a public transport system and there is going to be a public transport system in Ennis,” she stated.
Her comments were made at the February meeting of the Ennis Municipal District in response to a motion from Cllr Ann Norton. The Independent councillor questioned what transport facilities were in place for “the elderly and less mobile people” who had been provided with housing on the outskirts of Ennis for accessing “facilities and services like doctor appointments and hospital visits”.
Senior executive officer, Siobhán McNulty’s reply outlined that the local authority is “delivering social housing both directly and in conjuction with Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs)”. Respond, Cluid and CHI were some of the AHBs “active in Ennis”. She confirmed the Council work with AHBs “to ensure household needs are met. As a housing authority we do not provide transportation services for tenants”.
Although Cllr Norton agreed “it is wonderful we have housing organisations working with Clare County Council”, she highlighted, “There are a number of people living in houses outside the town area that are finding it difficult to access amenities”. She added, “The cost of taxis from the Shanaway Road to town or the bus station is quite costly especially when you’re living on disability allowance or social welfare payment. It is putting pressure on people to access doctors, pharmacies and other essential resources”.
Fianna Fáil’s Tom McNamara seconded the motion. “It is important we take cognisance that these people have reduced mobility. I think it highlights the need for a bus service within the town. We need to service people on the outskirts of the town”.
Cllr Johnny Flynn who has actively called for a town bus service criticised the transport offering for the people of Ennis. “For a town of its size the lack of public transport in Ennis is unacceptable”. He continued, “It is a bigger issue but expecting people 3 or 4 miles outside of the town centre to be housed in social housing is difficult”.
Carmel Kirby then joined the debate as she assured elected representatives of their intentions to establish a town bus system and issued them with a reminder, “As councillors are aware the housing section do their best to match the housing needs to people on the waiting list”.
Ennis councillors unanimously backed a motion from Cllr Flynn in November 2017 “to urgently seek the National Transport Agency (NTA) to plan to provide for the first time a bus service in Ennis as the NTA are currently in the process of doing similarly for rural towns of Carlow, Mullingar and Letterkenny”.
Senior Planner, Brian McCarthy in response said, “Clare County Council is interested in working with a local group proposing such a project together with state supported agencies, in order to achieve the objectives as set out in the Clare County development plan 2017-2023 and the rural development strategy”.
Last February, representatives of the NTA met with Council officials with a further motion from Cllr Flynn discussed at June’s meeting of the Ennis MD.