A new transport route servicing rural areas to and from Midlands Regional Hospital Mullingar has been given the green light and is expected to be up and running by the end of the summer.
Cllr Michael Carrigy, who has been working on this proposal for a number of years, described the news as a “positive development” for people in Co Longford. “It is very important we have access to public transport in rural areas, especially for those needing to visit hospitals,” he said.
Up until now, there has been no direct link to the hospital and no link at all to Mullingar outside of the designated Bus Eireann routes. This new route will have stops in Longford, Granard, Abbeylara, Ballinalee and Coole.
The new service will be operated by Sliabh Bloom Coaches, with three regular services to and from the hospital every Monday to Saturday.
“It’s very important that we will have this off-route service to allow people in rural areas access to public transport,” Cllr Carrigy said. This service will also tie-in with a route from Mullingar hospital to Tullamore hospital, allowing passengers from Longford to change buses in Mullingar and continue to Tullamore.
While welcoming this new provision, Cllr Peggy Nolan said a submission for a similar direct service from Longford to Tullamore should be made. “This is great news with regards the Mullingar route but Tullamore Hospital is the centre of excellence for people in Longford and we need to be furnished with a direct route to that as well,” the FG councillor remarked.
“Can you imagine someone who is ill having to go into Mullingar first, get off the bus and transfer onto another one and then travel onto Tullamore? It’s an improvement for now, but as Tullamore is an orthopaedic hospital for Longford people we need a direct designated service,” Cllr Nolan said.
Cllr Carrigy, who chairs the Midlands Regional Authority, kept this issue on the agenda with the Department of Transport and the NRA, said a direct route to Tullamore was unlikely for now. “The coach company have set up the timetables so that they are all connected. So a person getting off in Mullingar won’t have long to wait for a bus to Tullamore and vice versa. We will have to see how this route gets on before we look at extending it,” Cllr Carrigy said.