Bus Éireann has bowed to public and political pressure by reducing fares for people in East Cork who had to pay nearly double the price for a journey to Cork City than commuters living further away in Co Waterford.
Local politicians questioned for several months why the adult daily return fare from Dungarvan, Co Waterford to Cork (75km) cost €9.50, whereas the same fare from Youghal to Cork (48km) cost €19.
Bus Éireann said the Dungarvan fares was a promotional offer, but kept it in place for nearly a year.
At an East Cork Municipal District Council meeting last September, a senior Bus Éireann official said they had been offering the “promotional fare” on the Dungarvan Expressway route for several months.
He said his company was allowed to reduce fares for promotional reasons, but it could not do so on the Cork routes as they were set by the National Transport Authority (NTA).
However, the following month, a senior NTA official told a Dáil committee that pricing was up to Bus Éireann.
Recently elected Fianna Fáil Cork East TD James O’Connor raised the issue on numerous occasions as a councillor, and later got backing at a full meeting of the county council in County Hall to ask Bus Éireann to reduce fares for East Cork people.
In an effort to ratchet up the pressure he also organised a petition which was signed by more than 1,000 people.
Bus Éireann has now announced it has reduced the return ticket from Youghal to Cork City to €10.
“This represents a significant reduction of €9 from the original €19 return fare,” Mr O’Connor said.
He added that while the reduction was very welcome, more had to be done to get people out of their cars and on to public transport.
“This can only be achieved by expanding the green zone commuter area around Cork City,” he said. “Towns such as Youghal, Fermoy, Mitchelstown, and Mallow are heavily impacted by expensive [bus] routes, and this must be tackled.
“If we’re serious about tackling congestion in Cork City, we must put proper incentives in place if we expect motorists to consider leaving their vehicles at home."