A ‘connection’ between a busy bus station and an award-winning historic railway station is a bridge too far for Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann.
Killarney railway and bus stations are just yards apart — but the journey between them for foot passengers laden with luggage can take up to a quarter of an hour, or more.
A high fence separates the two public amenities and passengers have to negotiate a shopping mall, during commercial opening times, or take an even more circuitous route when the Killarney Outlet Centre is closed.
Cllr Michael Gleeson raised the matter again at a meeting of Kerry County Council.
“A high percentage of commuters on both services are elderly and some are coming from or going to hospitals.
“Having to walk, sometimes on a tight schedule from one station to the other can be both physically difficult and mentally distressing and frequently the walk involves carrying heavy luggage,” he said.
A pedestrian walkway incorporating lifts, he suggested, would resolve the matter.
“I am calling on Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann to undertake the requested development and thus help make travel as pleasant as their advertisements suggest it is,” he said.
However, the meeting was told the reply, from Bus Éireann, to the same motion passed by the council a year ago was unchanged. The company claimed there was simply no budget for the simple solution.
Applications for capital grants had far exceeded the money available to them in 2016, Bus Éireann said. “Whilst there is merit in connecting the two stations, funding restrictions prevent us from developing this project in the short term.”
Iarnród Éireann, meanwhile, did not reply to the council.
The problems in Killarney, the meeting heard, marries with other calls for basic public transport infrastructure for the south-west.
A meeting of the Kerry South West municipal district committee — the largest local council area in Ireland running from Kenmare to Dingle and inland to Milltown — recently heard most rural areas and small towns will remain without bus shelters because the National Transport Authority, in liaison with local authorities and Bus Éireann, had to “prioritise”.
The council had sought a number of Bus Éireann stops in South and West Kerry which is wholly dependent on the public bus service. The NTA told the council it had to draw up “a priority policy because of the funding constraints” — and even that will take a number of years to roll out.
The matter arose amid calls for bus shelters in the growing towns of Milltown and Castlemaine. The NTA said there are currently 10,000 bus stops and, due to funding constraints, it was simply impossible to provide bus shelters in all of the locations seeking them.
The policy, it said, is for one bus shelter in each direction at the busiest stop in all towns with a population size of over 1,000 and two bus shelters at the two busiest stops in each direction in towns that have a population size exceeding 3,000 people.
However consideration will be given to providing bus shelters at educational facilities and employment hubs and hospitals, it said.
Unfortunately, neither Milltown nor Castlemaine meets the policy criteria.
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