Accusation that Dublin is reneging on its commitment to North West as loss-making Derry bus is slashed

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Bus Éireann’s Dublin to Derry bus route is being slashed because it has been “loss-making for some time”, however, Dublin’s been accused of breaching its “strategic commitment to develop transport in the North West” by not intervening to save the service.

In a letter to Derry City and Strabane District Council Chief Executive John Kelpie, Bus Éireann boss Ray Hernan, claimed the decision to axe its Expressway Route 33 on May 28 had been a difficult one that had followed a period of “intense analysis”.

Mr. Hernan wrote to the local council boss after Mr. Kelpie wrote to both Bus Éireann and the Irish Transport Minister Shane Ross expressing concerns over the proposed reduction on behalf of the Council’s Environment and Regeneration Committee.

Mr. Hernan wrote: “As I am sure you are aware, Route 33, is a wholly commercial service.

“As such it receives no state subvention, therefore its performance must be measured by the bottom line

“Unfortunately, Route 33 has been loss-making now for some time. Even though we engaged in a number of initiatives to stimulate demand, losses have continued to increase.”

Mr. Hernan suggested passengers accustomed to using the Derry to Dublin service would be able to avail of Translink’s continuing three return services on the route as well as from the Route 22 Dublin to Letterkenny service, which will have increased frequency.

“While cancellation of Route 33 was a difficult decision, I do not believe that connectivity will not be adversely affected due to the alternative arrangements that are being put in place,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, it’s also emerged that the former Transport Minister Chris Hazzard wrote to his counterpart in Dublin, Shane Ross, accusing him of reneging on commitments made to the North West.

The Permanent Secretary at the Department for Infrastructure (DfI), Peter May, wrote to Mr. Kelpie, stating: “The X3 service from Derry to Dublin is currently operated jointly between Translink and Bus Éireann.

“Bus Éireann have notified Translink that the two return journeys currently operated by Bus Éireann on the X3 service from Derry to Dublin will be withdrawn.

“The previous Minister for Infrastructure, Chris Hazzard MLA, wrote to his counterpart in the Republic of Ireland, Minister Shane Ross, TD, to outline that the removal of the X3 service by Bus Éireann is contrary to the strategic commitments that both Governments have made to developing transport in the North West.

“Consequently, I am pleased to advise that, whilst Bus Éireann will withdraw services, Translink will continue to operate the three return journeys to Dublin on the X3 service.

“Despite a challenging financial environment, Translink is also exploring the possibility of linking services from Derry into Bus Éireann’s service from Letterkenny to Dublin.

“Commuters can also still avail of the X4 service, which is operated solely by Translink from Foyle Street, Derry to Dublin via Dungannon.”