Tomorrow’s August Bank Holiday Weekend Saturday sees the launch of the new Bonane to Kenmare ‘Drink Link’ bus service. Its official name is: Local Link Kerry Evening Time Service, and it aims to tackle isolation in rural areas such as Bonane.
The Bonane – Kenmare – Bonane service is number E7 and it operates on Saturday evenings. Local Link Kerry has published a route with nine collection points. It also operates a door-to-door collection and drop-off service on demand, just like the weekly Wednesday morning service. To avail of the door-to-door service, intending passengers must phone 066 714 7002 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) or 087 345 2648 (Sat 6.30-7.30pm) to register and book a seat. The return fare is €5 and the Free Travel Pass is accepted. The bus is to arrive at Kenmare’s Square at 8.30pm, and will depart from there at 11.30pm.
The evening Local Link service is available to locals and visitors alike. It’s not just a ‘Drink-Link’ for going to the pub, but will also enable us to visit family or friends. Unfortunately, the current scheduled arrival time in Kenmare at 8.30pm is too late for patrons of Kenmare’s Carnegie Arts Centre to arrive on time for Saturday evening events. Tomorrow evening, for instance, 4th August, the Carnegie is staging the drama ‘Steel Magnolias’ by American writer Robert Harling, performed by the Carnegie Players. The play starts at 8pm. Theatre goers will therefore have to make their own way to town if they want to catch the first act of the play.
When Minister for Transport Shane Ross launched the first Evening Time Service on behalf of the National Transport Authority in Listowel on 22nd June last, he warned the public: “I have to stress that this is a pilot project; one that we very much want to succeed and flourish, so I would ask everyone to make use of it. It’s your transport system, developed for your benefit and it is here to serve you.”
The message is loud and clear: Here’s your bus: Use it or lose it!
However, will the scheduled journey times actually meet the requirements of our local community? Let’s assume the bus will start collecting passengers at its first stop, Releagh Bridge, at 8pm and then make its way towards Kenmare. We have already established this will be too late for most events at the Carnegie. On the other hand, it has already been said to me that 8pm would be much too early for your average farmer to go to town. Especially during the summer a lot of jobs around the farm don’t finish until late, and many of us may not arrive in Kenmare before 10pm. Obviously, in such case, a 11.30pm departure from town for the trip back to Bonane would be too early. Plus, the car would have to be abandoned in town, to be collected the following day. Then again, in the light of drink-driving, this should be good practice anyway.
Would the departure time of 11.30pm suit Bonane’s teenagers though? Possibly. When they’ve spent a Saturday evening in Kenmare, socialising or engaged in sports, it might save their parents having to collect them in town. They could instead collect them from one of the scheduled stops along the route. Or, indeed, teenagers could possibly avail of the on demand drop-off service.
What is your opinion, people of Bonane? Do you find the new service helpful? Will you make use of it? Or do you find its timing unaccommodating? Answers on a proverbial postcard, please…