Fianna Fáil councillor, Damien O’Reilly submitted a motion at yesterday’s Meath County Council meeting requesting that “Meath County Council writes to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the National Transport Authority requesting they allocate 6 double-decker buses to operate fare-free from Navan every 15 minutes during peak times, via Dunshaughlin to M3 Parkway train station and evening return journey as an interim measure until the rail extension to Navan is fully operational and serviced”.
O’Reilly stated that “we should utilise the infrastructure that we have in front of us and think about climate change”. “Providing these services will provide a quality of life to the people living in Meath. While we wait for the Railway to Navan, we should try to get the bit that we have working. This is a common-sense motion” concluded O’Reilly.
Cllr Gillian Toole (Ind) voiced her support for the motion, “we have to start thinking outside of the box. I do expect a backlash from Bus Éireann and the NTA. Free transport is not something new, it’s happening in places like Copenhagen and some States in the USA. It is time for County Meath to be a leader and provide free public transport to people”.
Cllr Joe Fox (Fine Gael), was also in support, “we are spending money on new things and not using what we have. For example, in Enfield, the trains are going at the wrong time and fares are not right. We need some joint-up thinking when we are sorting out fare structure. There is no innovation or joint up thinking, that is the mindset of the NTA”.
Cllr Nick Killian (Ind), like Fox, believed there was no joined-up thinking, “from day one it has not been marketed. We are ignoring climate change in County Meath. This is a very good motion and should be passed. Minister Eamon Ryan should be invited here and listen to what we are discussing in this chamber”.
Cllr Emer Tóibín (Aontú) warned it could be six years before the Navan Railway will be completed.
“This is a very good motion. While we wait, we need to provide commuters with some hope and relief in the time being”.
Lastly, Cllr Alan Tobin (Fine Gael) said that “we need to look at providing stuff for free”. “Taking people out of their diesel cars, means cleaner air, it is a win-win situation. We should be utilising our public transport and motorways”.
The motion passed unanimously.