I am glad the Minister is here to take this Topical Issue matter personally and I thank him for being here. I am raising issues with the 220, 220x and the 223 services on behalf of constituents. The 220 is the service from Carrigaline through Cork city and on to Ovens. The 220x is the same service with the addition of a service to Crosshaven. The 223 is the Ringaskiddy to Cork city service and some of those buses go on to CIT. The reason I am raising the issue is that I and others have been inundated with complaints about the quality of the bus service. In particular, we have received complaints about the reliability of the service and ongoing capacity issues as well. It appears that these routes are seriously under-resourced. They are popular, successful and profitable routes and there are people who want to use public transport. The types of issues that occur consistently unfortunately relate to buses running very late, buses being full or in some cases buses not turning up at all. We are talking about people who rely on a bus service to go to college, school, work, a hospital appointment or to go about their day-to-day lives. It is just not good enough. I have tried to take this issue through the regular channels. I have raised these concerns with Bus Éireann directly. It talks about traffic congestion, the need for greater investment in bus lanes and it says it is looking at increasing capacity on these routes. I do not see any improvements happening at the moment and that is why I feel the need to raise these issues here today.
The problems are both inbound and outbound and both the 220 and 223 serve communities that are rapidly expanding. Towns like Carrigaline and Passage West are expanding very rapidly and they need a quality bus service. I am not blaming the bus drivers, some of whom have provided really useful feedback on the nature of the timetable. It may well be that the timetable needs to change to reflect the reality of traffic congestion which is not getting lighter. It is not just in Dublin that there is traffic congestion; it is certainly in Cork as well. More resources are undoubtedly needed. There is no real-time information available. If one is at a bus stop in Dublin or waiting for the Luas, the sign will say when the next Luas or bus will be along, for example, in two minutes or three minutes. We do not have that service on these routes. People stand there not knowing whether or not the bus will turn up. That is the reality of the service that people are facing.
I welcome the extension of the city zone fares which both of these routes avail of. The 220 and 223 are now deemed to be within the city zone. That is a very beneficial reduction in fares, which is to be welcomed. The message from people is that it is all very good and they welcome it but it is not much good if we do not have a service we can rely on.
There is also a need to change routes and introduce new routes. The town of Carrigaline should be connected with Passage West because there is a new primary care centre in Carrigaline, which the people of Passage West need to get to. About 5,000 people work in the lower harbour area of Ringaskiddy and many of them live in Carrigaline. There is no bus connection for them to get to work or to Little Island.
There are a lot of issues. In some cases overtime is not available and is not being paid, which may explain why in some cases, buses have an out-of-service sign and are rushing back to the depot. In other cases, private buses are being brought in, which means people cannot use the Leap card and so there is a loss of revenue to Bus Éireann. The Minister is in charge. People are looking for answers and I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say.