Over 100 people packed into the Old Latin School in Moyne last Monday night in a last ditch attempt to save the Whartons Bus Service in north Longford.
The service, which has been running in the area for the best part of 100 years, is to be removed on March 15, and temperatures rose as service users, local area representatives and local TDs examined ways to save the service from annihilation.
Deputy James Bannon (FG) and Deputy Robert Troy (FF) were in attendance and committed to having the matter addressed in the Dáil. However, Cllr Luie McEntire (FF) says this does not go far enough, because the service “must be maintained” at all costs.
“People are very angry over this,” he said, adding that Whartons were also represented at the meeting and indicated clearly what it required in order to keep the bus in north Longford on the road. “I proposed that we seek a meeting with Minister Joan Burton and a deputation from the area goes to Dublin to speak with her.”
Cllr McEntire went on to say that one of the main aspects that came to the fore during the meeting was the “social outlet” the bus service provided for the majority of its service users. He pointed out that many did not drive cars and did not want to be dependent on other family members, “so for them, Whartons bus service is a lifeline”. “We know time is against us, because the service is being withdrawn on March 15, but we will do everything to keep this service on the road. We have 700 signatures already on our petition which we only placed in the local shops the other day; so that will give you an idea of how important this service is to people in north Longford.”
Meanwhile Cllr Martin Mulleady (FF) and Cllr John Duffy (FG) said that the service must be saved. Cllr Mulleady also pointed out that a local bus company had indicated it would provide the service for three months, but as far as he was concerned, “this is an election stunt and totally unacceptable”. “We are not going to take this; we are going to do all we can to keep this service in north Longford,” he added.
Cllr John Duffy said that a letter would be written to the Department requesting that it provide the €150 subvention that Whartons need to keep the service on the road. “This service has been running for over 100 years and it means a lot to the people of north Longford,” he added.
Service users also indicated that they would be prepared to contribute a monetary fee along with their pass, if it meant the service would say in north Longford.