Whartons have been awarded a public transport services contract for the provision of bus services between Cavan, Arva and Longford – the 975 service
Whartons previously operated the route for 40 years before financial pressures forced the company to withdraw the service earlier this year, with the ‘final journey’ taking place on Saturday, March 15.
There was massive outcry following the withdrawal of the service, with public meetings being staged and over 700 people in North Longford signed a petition calling for the restoration of the service.
Councillors John Duffy, Luie McEntire and Martin Mulleady were to the forefront in making representations on behalf of those affected and no doubt they will be delighted with today’s news from the National Transport Authority (NTA) that, following a tender competition, Wharton Travel Ltd will recommence on the route before the end of July.
Whartons are currently obtaining the required Stop Approvals from the local authorities.
Whartons is the second private operator that to whom the NTA has awarded a Public Service Obligation contract (ie covered by state subsidy) – for the provision of bus services which are socially necessary but financially unviable.
Last year, M&A Coaches of Ballyraggett, Co Kilkenny were awarded contracts for the 828 service between Johnstown and Portlaoise and the 828x service between Cashel and Portlaoise in the Midlands.
The new service will operate the same number of services and at the same departure times from Cavan and Longford as that previously provided by the commercially-licensed service that ceased earlier this year (ie two return trips between Cavan and Longford and one return trip between Longford and Arva daily).
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.