‘Life line’ bus service returns

Rosaleen Cashin from Arva getting off the bus in Longford town. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
There were scenes of delight last Wednesday morning when the new Wharton’s bus pulled into Longford town.

There were scenes of delight last Wednesday morning when the new Wharton’s bus pulled into Longford town.

It was the first time in five months that the service made its way from Cavan to Longford after it was withdrawn in March because of financial difficulties.

Major efforts by local representatives and community activists to have the service reinstated ensued, and the new contract was subsequently awarded back to the local bus company last month.

Cllr John Duffy (FG) said he was delighted to see the service back operating in north Longford. “I have worked with the National Transport Authority (NTA) since March, and indeed with Whartons, since they won the tender to get to this day, and am delighted for the passengers who use this service,” he added. “It is great to see that this issue has been resolved satisfactorily.”

Meanwhile, Cllr Luie McEntire (FF) pointed to the importance of the service and encouraged everyone in the community to avail of it. “So much effort went into getting this service back on the road and I am delighted to see Wharton’s bus back and indeed, Tommy the driver,” he said, adding, “the service is there and it is up to everyone now to avail of it.”

Wharton’s Travel said the new service would continue as normal and, it was looking forward to seeing all the loyal customers soon. “The new service will operate the same number of services and at the same departure times from Cavan and Longford as previously provided by the commercially-licensed service that ceased earlier this year which included two return trips between Cavan and Longford and one return trip between Longford and Arva daily,” the spokesperson confirmed.

“The service has been designed to provide frequent stopping places at key locations along the 61 km R198 route to serve the local population. Adult and concessionary fares to be charged have been set by the NTA and broadly match the previous fares charged. As the Free Travel Scheme operated by the Department of Social Protection is closed to new entrants, holders of Free Travel Passes wishing to travel on the service will now be required to pay 50% of the appropriate adult fare. The new service is wheelchair accessible.”

Back in March when it emerged that the service was being removed the entire community in north Longford together with its public representatives rallied together in an effort to have it reinstated. After the NTA determined that the need for the bus was necessary from a ‘social’ aspect, Whartons were presented with a new contract. “I am delighted,” one lady told the Leader. “This bus is my life line and it is just great to see it back on the road.”

The bus operates on the same schedule as before with 8am and 1pm daily departures from Cavan and a 10.20am, 3.20pm and 6pm returns from Longford.