Monday 29th February -
This meeting in Donaghmore Ashbourne GAA club at 8.00 this evening will be a welcome follow up to last week's initial gathering to discuss the changes that will affect the Ratoath and Asbourne Bus Eireann service.
Bus users from Ashbourne, Ratoath and beyond have made their objections to the changes to the 103 and 105 services clear through social media which led to a meeting being arranged last week.
Attention had been raised through the Ashbourne & Ratoath Bus And Coach Users Facebook page. Over 50 people attended the meeting on Monday evening arranged by local bus user Sam Elliott and Cllr Alan Tobin and there was a great deal of confusion over the exact nature of the changes. These changes have reportedly been approved the National Transport Authority which means that it is a “done deal”.
One of primary points of concern is the rerouting of the 103 bus to leave Ratoath and go to Dublin via Ashbourne, which bus users believe will be extremely impractical as the buses will be full by the time they reach Ashbourne and not be able to accommodate the large number of commuters travelling to the city. This decision was described during the meeting as “effectively amalgamating the Ratoath and Ashbourne service which would prove to make the service more efficient for Bus Eireann, not for the customer”.
It was also noted that the fares for the Ratoath and Ashbourne to Dublin routes are approximately 30% higher than similar routes, such as Celbridge. It was mentioned that Bus Eireann had proposed fare decreases but the NTA refused to sanction them.
Route changes were also a key point of discussion as according to correspondence from the NTA a “revised (103) route will operate inbound to the city centre via Phibsboro, Broadstone, Western Way, Blessington Street and O’Connell St. Outbound journeys will continue to depart from Beresford Place via the current route.” This route change will impact students travelling to O’Connell and Belvedere school and bus users travelling to Temple Street, the Mater and the Rotunda hospitals effectively necessitating disembarking from the Bus Eireann bus and taking a Dublin Bus to their final destination.
Parents at the meeting explained that, should this changes be implemented, their children will now need to wake much earlier, some at 6.00am and will also be walking longer distances in the city which they are not comfortable with, especially for younger children.
Another point of concern is the alleged changing of the bus terminus from Beresford Place to Townsend Street, on the south side of the Liffey between Tara Street station and Trinity College. Correspondence received by Cllr Sean Smith from Bus Eireann on 11th February stated that once past Constitution Hill on the way to the city centre “the service will then travel down Western Way, and operate down Blessington Street, Parnell Street to O’Connell street and onto Townsend street”. This is not mentioned in the correspondence that Cllr Sharon Keogan received the day of the meeting from Michael Warnock-Smith of the NTA outlining the changes to be implemented, including:
Route 103: Ratoath – Ashbourne - Dublin
• All services will now serve Ratoath providing a bus every 20mins from Ratoath to Dublin City via Finglas.
• All services will now serve a greater part of Ratoath providing areas such as “Steeplechase” with public transport services
• A Route 103X limited stop service will now operate in the morning and evening peak periods providing a direct service from Duleek, Kilmoon & Ashbourne to the City Centre and onwards to UCD.
Route 105: Drogheda – Duleek – Kentstown – Ashbourne – Ratoath – Blanchardstown – Connolly Hospital
Route 105 will be replaced by an enhanced service that will operate between Drogheda and Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown and will provide the following:
• An hourly service linking Drogheda to Connolly Hospital via Duleek, Kentstown, Ashbourne, Ratoath and Dunboyne.
• A 30min service linking Ashbourne to Connolly Hospital via Ratoath and Dunboyne
• A Route 105X limited stop service operating in the morning and evening peak periods providing a direct service from Ashbourne & Ratoath to the City Centre and onwards to UCD via the M3 Corridor.
Senator Thomas Byrne said “Bus Éireann in the last year organised a full public consultation on proposed changes on the N3 corridor, which affects Dunshaughlin. These changes have not happened as of yet due to public uproar. However, when these changes were proposed for the... 103 and 105 services, there wasn’t even a public announcement let alone a public consultation.
The NTA states that the changes will be communicated to customers through leaflet drops to all houses in Ashbourne/Ratoath/Duleek etc, customer notices on all vehicles, the Bus Eireann website, social media and local media.
The lack of public consultation and direct surveying prompted Cllr Darren O Rourke to query the evidence and proof that these changes were going to work.
Bus Eireann has said that the information will be on the bus Eireann website tomorrow, Friday 26th February.
The next public meeting will take place at 8.00pm on Monday 29th February at Donaghmore Ashbourne GAA club and all are urged to attend to have their say.