Mary Crossan, co-ordinator of the family resource centre, pictured as she checks out the new bus which will operate on the service from Carrigans to Letterkenny. Photo: Brian McDaid
The start of a new public transport service connecting communities in east Donegal with Letterkenny was called a landmark day for the area by speakers at the launch of the service yesterday.
LocalLink Donegal and the National Transport Authority launched the new public and commuter daily transport service from Carrigans to Letterkenny via St. Johnston yesterday, Wednesday, at the St. Johnston and Carrigans Family Resource Centre.
The service runs three times a day, Monday through Saturday, between Carrigans and Letterkenny.
Elected representatives and others at Wednesday's launch travelled from the resource centre to Carrigans and back on the new bus, and after the launch concluded a regularly scheduled departure took LocalLink customers to Letterkenny for the first official run of the service.
People attending the launch travelled from St Johnston's to Carrigans and back on the new bus. Photo: Brian McDaid
Fiona O’Shea, manager of Seirbhís Iompair Tuaithe Teo, SITT Rural Transport, said the service will be accessible and affordable, saying that connectivity is “much, much more than going from a to b”.
Addressing the launch, Ms. O’Shea said the service will also provide opportunities for people with mobility issues who have had difficulty leaving their homes, and for people who wish to travel to Letterkenny for education, training, work, shopping or other purposes.
SITT also provides services from Glencolmcille to Killbegs, from Fintown to Dungloe, from Burtonport to Letterkenny, from Inishowen to Letterkenny and Inishowen to Derry, and from the Finn Valley to Letterkenny.
"It is expanding and it is growing,” Ms. O’Shea said.
Mary Crossan, co-ordinator of the family resource centre, has lived in St. Johnston all her life. She remembered watching, with her family and a crowd of people who gathered, when the last train pulled through St. Johnston in 1965. Then, as a child, she had not realised the impact of the loss, though later, “I became all too aware of the changes”, she said.
The impact of the loss or lack of public transport is far-reaching and affects the lives of individuals, families and communities, said Ms. Crossan, who has long lobbied for the transport for the area.
Speakers urged the public to use the service to ensure its sustainability.
"We want to see the whole spectrum of the community availing of the service,” Sen. Pádraig MacLochlainn said in launching the new service.
Members of the board of Seirbhís Iompair Tuaithe Teo, SITT Rural Transport, (seated) Kathleen McGuinness, Mary Coughlan and Joe Harley; and Mickey Mullen, Tony Breslin, James McClean and John Mc Brearty. Photo Brian McDaid
Connecting communities to services
Local Councillor Gerry Crawford, one of a number of councillors who attended the launch, said, “This initiative opens this area up again to Letterkenny, to the hospitals and to different amenities in Letterkenny, and people feel again now that they have a connect, and that connect has been missing since the 1960s.
"It’s a really welcome initiative,” Cllr. Crawford said.
Cllr. Jimmy Kavanagh, Letterkenny Municipal District mayor, said the service is good for the communities it serves and good for the town of Letterkenny. He said it will also give people living in outlying areas a convenient way to travel to Letterkenny whether or not they have a car.
Cllr. Kavanagh welcomed the fact that the service was accessible and said it will be a great advantage for the many people who will be able to use the bus to travel to hospital appointments, or to go to Letterkenny for business, education or leisure.
Thinking of Inishowen
Speakers also remembered the people in Inishowen, where people are dealing with the damage from Tuesday’s torrential rains, which have been described as unprecedented in nature.
Making apologies for people from Inishowen were due to attend the launch, Ms. O’Shea said, “Before we go, I think we should send our empathy and our thoughts to the people of Inishowen. They’re going through a horrible, horrible time today, and indeed some people’s homes and businesses have been affected, along with the infrastructure.
“So I think we should note them in our thoughts today,” she said.
The new schedule
The new service runs from Carrigans to Letterkenny at 8am, 1pm and 4pm; and from Letterkenny to Carrigans at 12 noon, 3pm and 6pm. The bus stops in Letterkenny at the Station Roundabout, Letterkenny University Hospital and Letterkenny Institute of Technology.
The fare is €3 for a single and €6 for a return; the free travel pass is accepted.
There is more online at locallink.ie.