Rural transport scheme to be overhauled
35 companies currently providing service will be reorganised into 18 ‘transport units’
Passengers on the south west Cavan rural transport initiative’s Kilnaleck route.
Local authorities are to be given a role in organising rural public transport under a reorganisation of the scheme outlined by the Government today.
Under the revision the 35 companies currently providing the service are going to be reorganised into 18 “transport co-operation units” by next year, according to Minister of State at the Department of Transport Alan Kelly.
He said each local authority will have to prepare rural transport plans for their area which the transport units will have to adhere to.
“The current rural transport programme (RTP) is not achieving its potential and it needs a new structure to do this,” stated Minister Kelly.
The (RTP) was established in 2007 and evolved from local initiatives to provide public transport provision for rural areas
A value for money review published last year found that the RTP had a very poor organisational structure with exceptionally high administration costs.
Mr Kelly said access to transport was major quality of life issue – especially for elderly people.
He added that there would be a “slight” reduction in the €16.3 million annually provided for rural transport, although he said cost-savings were not the reason for the changes.
He also said the integration of the rural public transport and other public transport services needed to improve.
Mr Kelly told RTE’s Morning Ireland that currently there was not a sustainable future for many of the companies providing rural transport services and this had to change.
Reforming rural transport was a commitment in the programme for Government, he added.
He said the reformed service would be operated by the National Transport Authority and it would meet the 35 companies and create 18 units across the country.