Members of Milltownpass Tidy Towns and community with Cllr Hazel Smyth and Cllr Emily Wallace.

Further discussion needed to finalise plans for Milltownpass bus shelters

Plans for new bus shelters in Milltownpass were discussed at a community consultation meeting with Pat Nally, district engineer on the Active Travel team for Westmeath County Council, on Wednesday last, May 3.

The meeting which was organised by Cllr Hazel Smyth, chair of the Transport and Planning Strategic Policy Committee, included representatives from Milltownpass Tidy Towns, who raised the need for bus shelters with her in 2022. Representatives from the local community were invited along to discuss future plans and potential new locations for the shelters.

Aoife Lynskey, PRO, Milltownpass Tidy Towns, stated: “Last year Milltownpass Tidy Towns carried out a community survey via our social media channel asking the community for feedback on where our focus should be in terms of local issues that need urgent attention.

"A lot of the feedback we received centered around the longstanding need for bus shelters for the high volume of commuters who use the local bus services.

“We had feedback from frustrated commuters and residents – one said people take shelter in their doorway and sit on their windowsill on wet days while waiting for the bus!

“This clearly was a major issue for locals so we set about engaging directly with the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Westmeath County Council via the PPN and through our local county councilors.

“In December last year we received an update from Cllr Smyth that she had raised the issue at a recent Strategic Policy Committee meeting and that the council had agreed to recommend bus shelters for Milltownpass as part of the NTA programme of just 10 shelter installations throughout County Westmeath.

“In January this year, we received an update from the NTA that they had discussed Milltownpass in their January planning meeting and after a study of the existing bus stop locations a number of concerns were raised that would require further scrutiny. Those concerns related to the boundary lines of private property ownership, in addition to possible adverse effects on affected parties and adjacent premises in the vicinity of the bus stops.

“It was agreed at that point that further enquiries and on the ground research would be conducted by Westmeath County Council.

“Cllr Smyth has continued to drive the issue forward and the purpose of the meeting was to assist the council in doing some of that ‘on the ground research’ and to investigate potential alternative locations where bus shelters would be suitable.

“Two preferred options were discussed and we are now in discussions with a landowner where permission would be required. Once we have obtained the required permission, we’ll be sharing the locations with the community via our social media for a final round of feedback before we proceed.”

Cllr Smyth said: “Proper shelters are an important part of making our services more attractive for communities. Bus shelters encourage greater use of public transport, which is important to help us reduce carbon emissions, improve road safety and reduce traffic congestion.

“I’m grateful for the active engagement and collaboration of the community of Milltownpass, Westmeath County Council and the NTA with this. Great progress is being made and hopefully we will have these bus shelters installed as soon as possible.”