Cars parked at Whitegate.

‘It’ll be too late when there’s a life lost’

Concerned locals are calling for more parking to be made available at Whitegate bus stop before “somebody is killed”.

While parking has been an issue for quite a while, the problem has worsened in recent months, as the price of fuel forced more people to commute on public transport.

Whitegate bus stop, located on the N3 from Dublin to Cavan, is popular with those commuting to and from Dublin. School buses to Eureka Secondary school and Virginia College also utilise the bus stop.

Local resident Pat Hayes is among those increasingly worried about the potential for a serious accident.

While dropping his daughter to catch her school bus each morning, Pat has observed cars parked in inappropriate places. He also regularly sees road signs blocked and visibility limited for traffic turning onto the N3 from the Mullagh road.

“The cars that are parked are blocking the view. You can’t see if there is oncoming traffic or not so it’s definitely not safe to come out at the junction.”

The father is unsure whether cars parked in the area were all taking the bus to commute to Dublin, or whether groups were meeting to carpool.

“I think people meeting and going somewhere in one vehicle makes sense,” says Pat. “But people are abandoning their cars on the side of the road so that you don’t have line of sight to the traffic, which means that you have to edge out into the traffic, which is actually dangerous.

“There’s going to be an accident with a fatality there some day if it’s not fixed. It’s a danger there at the moment unfortunately.”

Making the situation more dangerous, he feels, are cars parked in the designated bus stop bay. As a result, buses are forced to stop while partially parked on the main road.

“The bus can’t get into the bus stop so it’s parked out halfway across the road, so you have to pull into the oncoming traffic lane to get out past the bus, which is dangerous.

“I’d say people who are leaving their cars there don’t understand the danger they’re causing.”

Another local, Kay McInerney, agrees the bus stop is regularly taken over by parked cars.

“When the bus is trying to pull in, a lot of the time they can’t because the cars are parked there.

“I saw a woman there with walking sticks and the bus couldn’t pull in so she could get on. It’s very dangerous if cars are coming out from the Mullagh side, there’s cars parked all over the place.”

Kay considers the location a danger for “anybody that’s getting on the bus”.

“The bus can’t pull in because the cars are parked there.”

A group of people, including Kay, also attend the bus stop to clean the rubbish left behind by commuters “at least once a week and you’d want to go nearly once a day!”

She says bins are needed, but people should take their rubbish away with them. “Whoever is parking there has pulled the bus sign down,” she says, outlining the vandalism at the stop.

“It’s a disgrace. This is going on a couple of months now and it’s getting worse. The litter is getting worse.”

Independent Councillor Shane P O’Reilly has highlighted the issue at numerous meetings with council staff, and has suggested solutions. These vary from creating an additional bus stop between Maghera and Whitegate, to his most recent idea of relocating the stop entirely.

The Mullagh man is calling on Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to resolve the issue “before it’s too late”.

“Someone will be killed at Whitegate. The time for excuses is over, the TII are dragging their heels with this for long enough.”

Cllr O’Reilly says the government have been promoting the use of public transport, but have not put the appropriate infrastructure in place.

“There’s not much point in the government constantly saying we need to use public transport, but yet the infrastructure is not being put in place for people to park up their cars and use public transport.

“People are just double parking cars, abandoning cars - that’s what it is - so they can actually get their lift to Dublin, get their public transport.

“Someone will be killed at Whitegate, it’ll be too late when there’s a life lost.”

TII has been contacted for comment.