First Carlow town bus service ‘will prove transformative’ – Minister for Transport

The new Carlow Town bus service is “welcome news for the local economy, the environment, but most of all, for the people who live, learn and work here”

27 July 2023

  • The new Carlow Town Bus Service will commence Sunday, 30 July and will operate two routes, running seven days a week, 18 hours a day.
  • Carlow Town has a growing population of 27,351 (2022 Census).
  • Now 94% of Carlow town’s population will be within an 800-metre walk of a bus stop
  • New bus services align with Government’s ‘Town Centres First’ policy which aims to ‘breathe new life into Irish towns’.

The new Carlow Town bus service is “welcome news for the local economy, the environment, but most of all, for the people who live, learn and work here”, according to Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD.

First ever dedicated Carlow Town bus service

The Minister was speaking at the launch of the first ever dedicated Carlow Town bus service, which will see Bus Éireann operate two dedicated routes seven days a week, commencing on Sunday 30 July. It will consist of two routes (CW1 and CW2), with buses running every half hour in both directions.

According to the MinisterThe new services we are launching today will ensure improved access within Carlow Town, making it easier for just about everybody to get around. This new service will provide people with a new choice to use public transport, leaving the car and congestion behind. Whether the service is used to go to school or college; work; or to meet up with family and friends, I believe these services will prove to be transformative for Carlow Town and make a real and positive difference to many people’s lives.


National Development Plan’s ‘Town Centres First’ policy

Carlow Town has a growing population of 27,351 (2022 Census), up 13% on 2016, making it the country’s 13th largest urban population.

The new service aligns with the National Development Plan’s ‘town centres first’ policy, which aims to breathe new life into town centres and make them ‘viable and attractive places in which to live, work, visit and run a business.’ The new town bus service will allow visitors to travel and shop in Carlow town, without the hassle of parking.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) awarded the operating contract to Bus Éireann after a competitive tender process.

Bus Éireann currently operates town bus services in six towns across Ireland, including Athlone and Navan. The Athlone town service, which became Ireland’s first fully electric bus service in January 2023, is facilitating 10,000 passenger journeys per week. The population of Athlone town, at 22,869 is slightly smaller than Carlow, however, both towns have growing urban centres.

The Navan town bus service has also seen significant year-on-year growth, carrying 178,000 passengers in the first six months of the year, and enjoying a four-fold increase in passengers in 2022 when compared to pre-Covid. This occurred following a significant investment in services and infrastructure by the NTA and Meath County Council.


NTA insight

According to Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA: “The service we are launching today in Carlow is indicative of the commitment that we in NTA have to investing in public transport services, not just in the big cities, but also in our major towns around the country.

“Already we have launched services in towns such as Navan, Sligo, Dundalk, Balbriggan, Drogheda, Kilkenny and Athlone. Today, Carlow is to be added to that list.

“The response from communities in these towns has been overwhelmingly positive and every week, tens of thousands of people are now making bus journeys that were previously impossible. I am confident that we will witness something similar here in Carlow.”


Route details

The new service will operate 18 hours a day Monday to Saturday, with slightly shorter operating hours on Sunday. It will consist of two routes (CW1 and CW2), with buses running every half hour in both directions. Following a competitive open market tender, Bus Éireann will operate the service. The NTA is responsible for determining routes, fares and timetables.

With the introduction of the new bus service, 94% of Carlow town’s population will now be within an 800-metre walk of a bus stop on the network; 64% of households will be within a 400-metre walk of a bus stop.

Allen Parker, Chief Customer Officer of Bus Éireann said: ‘’We are delighted to announce that the Carlow town bus service will commence on Sunday, 30 July, and will provide a first-class public transport option for the people of Carlow town.’’

‘’In anticipation of the new service, 19 drivers have joined the Bus Éireann team in Carlow. From Sunday, the people of Carlow town will have the opportunity to travel in a more sustainable way to work, school and to visit family and friends.’’

‘’There has never been a more exciting time to be involved in public transport in Ireland, and Bus Éireann is pleased to have won the competitive process to provide this service to the people of Carlow. The new services will be operated on seven vehicles provided by the NTA, which are fully accessible.’’

Additional information

Route CW1

Route CW1 will run from Merck Sharpe & Dohme (MSD), Dublin Road to Tyndall College, Kilkenny Road. The route is approximately 8.5km in length with 18 stops from MSD to Tyndall College and 17 stops from Tyndall College to MSD.

Route CW2

Route CW2 will run from Wexford Road Business Park to Barrow Valley Retail Park, Graiguecullen. The route is approximately 8km in length with 18 stops between the termini in each direction.

The two routes offer an interchange at multiple locations in the town including, Carlow Town Coach Park, Carlow Fire Station and Sandhills (CW1) / Laurence O’Tooles (CW2).

It is planned that the service will operate a bus every 30 minutes in each direction across the two routes. Please see timetabled information on the Bus Éireann website.

Intending passengers will be able to check the arrival in real-time of their bus using the TFI Live App.


A standard single journey on either route will cost €1.60 for adults and 90 cent for children, students and young adults under 24, irrespective of the distance travelled.

Leap Cards offering discounts on cash fares can be used on the new town bus service. All intending passengers are encouraged to buy Leap Cards, which will be available from nine locations around the town including post offices and retail outlets. They can also be bought online at

Passengers wishing to use a cash payment for a fare will be accepted, as will passengers using free travel cards.