FINANCIAL pressures are being blamed by Bus Eireann for plans to reduce the number of stops being made in Fermanagh on its Expressway service between Donegal town and Dublin.

At present, the service, designated as Route 30, runs nine times every day, making stops at Belleek, Enniskillen, Bellanaleck and Derrylin in County Fermanagh and also just across the border in Belturbet, County Cavan.

The Impartial Reporter understands that, in around four to six weeks, the number of services between Donegal town and Dublin will be increasing from nine to 13 daily.

But when the increased services come into operation, it is understood that there will be a reduction in the number of stops being made in Fermanagh.

According to the information received by this newspaper, the buses will only stop in Belleck, Bellanaleck, Derrylin and Belturbet on every second trip.

They will still stop in Enniskillen on every service.

Under the proposed new timetable, this means that buses will only be making all the stops on six services, as opposed to the nine currently operating.

In a statement released to the Impartial Reporter this week, Bus Eireann blamed “significant losses” last year for its decision.

A spokesperson said: “Expressway Route 30 is a commercial service that receives no State funding. Details relating to this business, and operation of its routes, are commercially sensitive. The company is only starting to recover after significant losses last year.”

Meanwhile, in a further blow for regular bus users in Fermanagh this week, it emerged that Translink may have to cut “unprofitable” rural bus routes due to a lack of Government funding.

Green Party deputy leader, Tanya Jones, who lives in Fermanagh, has warned that rural communities across the county will be starved of “vital support” if that happens.

Mrs Jones, who travels regularly by bus, said: “The whole point of publicly-owned organisations like Translink is that they provide unprofitable but socially necessary services with the help of subsidy from government.

“People in Fermanagh and Tyrone depend especially on bus services because we have no trains any more, many families can’t afford to run a car and we have many students travelling long distances to college and university.

”We need and deserve expanded, not contracted, public transport services to support our local economy, especially tourism, to enhance our health and well-being and to play our part in bringing about a cleaner and more sustainable future.”

According to a story in the Belfast Telegraph on Tuesday, Translink said it needed a £13m subsidy to keep operating these “unprofitable, but socially necessary,” services.

A spokesperson for the bus operator said: “Translink has maintained the public transport network without the sufficient subsidy required to operate unprofitable but socially necessary services.

“The subsidy required to run these services is around £13m per year.

“Since 2014-15 Translink has drawn on its own reserves, however, this is no longer sustainable going forward.”