Senator Aisling Dolan - Strong Voice, New Vision.

Call for additional routes for Athlone

February 13, 2023

Call for additional routes for Athlone

Senator Aisling Dolan raised the need for a bus route from Athlone to Ballinasloe along the old Dublin-Galway road.

I ran a campaign in 2021 to encourage people to make submission on the bus connections we would like to see in Roscommon under the Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan.

Recently the new 546 route from Castlerea -Mountbellew – Ballinasloe was launched and this gives people choice with 3 service a day under the Local Link and Transport For Ireland. Linking to An Chistin hospitality training in Castlerea, the ATU campus town of Mountbellew as well as to hospital in Ballinasloe.  People can explore cafés, restaurants, shopping, forest parks and amenities all over the region on the bus.

However we also need to see services connecting communities from Athlone to Ballinasloe. The bus station in Athlone town-centre used to bring people through Sumerhill and Moore into Ballinasloe and right outside the door of Portiuncula Hospital. As the hospital for over 20,000 people in Athlone and the major maternity hospital in the region and there are thousands of students who travel to the new TÚS university in Athlone every day - there is a demand from groups for this service and it is listed under Route 23 in the Connecting Ireland strategy.  Right now there is no service on this route. Commercial providers do bring people from town to town along the motorway however we need Local Link to connect communities and bring them from town-centre to town-centre.

Another proposed route is from Athlone to Roscommon town via Ballyforan, Ballygar and Athleague and again would give choice to people who may not be able to drive or have access to a car.

I asked the Minister and Department to provide an update and call to consider putting the  route in place as soon as possible. Minister Madigan responded on behalf of Minister Eamon Ryan. The response indicates that there is an increase of 25% in rural bus services and that routes are still under review however we need to see this happen sooner than 2024, I can see that there is demand for this route. The Minister also noted that the National Transport Authority do remain agile and flexible according to demand for routes.