Bus Eireann has announced it will cut its Expressway services from early next year due to the financial impact of Covid-19.
The service from Dublin to Belfast will be suspended indefinitely, while the routes from Dublin to Limerick, Cork and Galway will be scrapped.
The semi-state company says there will not be any job losses.
In a statement, Bus Eireann said, "this measure is being taken in response to significant medium-term challenges posed by Covid19 in order to safeguard Expressway’s remaining 14 national routes and meet the demand required on other city and commuter services.
"This decision was taken at a Bus Éireann Board meeting today following considerable analysis and review over the past number of months. No cessation dates have been determined as yet but changes are likely early next year when the current Commercial Bus Operator emergency supports to the Cork, Limerick and Galway routes expire."
“We have an opportunity through the July stimulus measures for public transport to increase our Bus Éireann city services in Cork, Galway and Limerick, as well other services as in Louth and Meath under contract to the NTA. This expansion will require more than 100 drivers which we can fully deliver by consolidating our Expressway network and taking a decision to withdraw from a small number of Expressway routes which would otherwise incur unsustainable losses and thereby avoid job losses in a very difficult trading environment.”
Meanwhile, the National Bus and Rail Union has said it is not surprised by the decision, "the NBRU has been warning that the threat to a number of communities Bus Service has been evident for a number of years, we ran a campaign in the latter part of 2016 into 2017," said General Secretary Dermot O'Leary.
"The issuing of these licences meant that capacity outstripped demand on a number of those inter-Urban corridors, Cork, Limerick and Galway into Dublin being cases in point. In the meantime, Bus Éireann, not least because of its State ownership model and its social contract to supply the Nations Bus service, was expected to continue to serve those towns and villages not deemed to be profit worthy by the Multinational Bus operators.
"Ironically, the entry to the inter-Urban market by a number of these Companies was preceded by the building of Motorways by the same Taxpayer that effectively owns Bus Éireann."