Clare County Council has welcomed a project update provided by the National Transport Authority (NTA) on the Ennis Town Bus Service, with an indicative implementation date of early 2025.
Since early 2022, the NTA has been working in collaboration with the Ennis Municipal District (MD) of Clare County Council to finalise the preferred routes for the county town’s first bus service, as well as to develop detailed stop and terminus designs.
The preferred routes have recently been finalised and will traverse Ennis from the Lahinch Road to the Tulla Road and from Clarecastle to Ballymaley via a town centre terminus at Friar’s Walk, with scope for the development of an additional route from Doora Industrial Estate to and from the town centre.
A detailed review and assessment of potential future stop locations also has been completed, while the bus fleet requirement and type for the town service has been identified. The NTA says that 7 out of 10 Ennis residents will be situated within 400m of a bus stop with 9 out of 10 residents being within 800m of a bus stop. It is proposed that the service will operate seven days a week for 18 hours daily.
Cllr. Clare Colleran-Molloy, Mayor of Ennis, commented, “Ennis residents and those who visit the town will very much welcome the NTA’s update on what will be a valuable and much used service. On behalf of my fellow Elected Members in Ennis MD, I want to express my support for this vitally important transport infrastructure project.”
Carmel Kirby, Director of Economic Development and Ennis Municipal District (MD), Clare County Council, said, “The delivery of a bus service in Ennis is central to the Local Authority’s efforts to improve traffic flow throughout Ennis and to encourage more people to embrace the use of public transport for the betterment of the local environment and access to, from and around the town.”
Ms. Kirby explained that the preferred routes have been identified following a route test exercise carried out in December.
“Over the past year, the NTA and Clare County Council have completed a route stop alignment process and identified the location of bus stops, termini and other kerbside infrastructure that will be required for the future service,” she explained. “The project is now moving into a stage of the process where more detailed designs will be developed taking into account existing and future active travel and other schemes within the town.”
Leonore O’Neill, Senior Executive Officer, Ennis MD, said significant additional steps towards finalising the project will be taken during the second half of 2023.
She continued, “The NTA and Ennis MD Office will be preparing a schedule of works and tender documents for the installation of necessary infrastructure works, including planning for the provision of depot facilities for the future service. A road safety audit will be completed, and approval of infrastructure designs will be sought from the relevant road authorities, while commercial landowners will be liaised with as required to draft licenses for the operation of the service.”
In subsequent project phases commencing in 2024, the project planning team will finalise all documents required to commence a bus service operator procurement process, issue a tender for infrastructure installation and associated works, and launch a marketing and promotion plan.
“The Ennis Town Bus Service is scheduled for commencement during the first quarter of 2025. Any measures and opportunities to shorten this timeline will be availed of, without compromising the integrity of the process, or the ability the NTA and Clare County Council to achieve their longer-term objectives for Ennis,” concluded Ms. O’Neill.