Pilot scheme offering late night transport in rural areas extended

Services aimed at tackling rural isolation to run until end of March, says Shane Ross

The first service was launched in Listowel, Co Kerry, last June and since last summer a total of 65 additional services across all 26 counties have been running on average from 6pm to 11pm typically on Friday and Saturday.

The first service was launched in Listowel, Co Kerry, last June and since last summer a total of 65 additional services across all 26 counties have been running on average from 6pm to 11pm typically on Friday and Saturday.

 

A pilot programme which has seen evening and late night public transport services operating in rural areas since the middle of last year has been given a three-month extension.

The scheme provides a combination of scheduled bus routes as well as door-to-door services in towns, villages and rural areas under the direction of the National Transport Authority (NTA).

The first service was launched in Listowel, Co Kerry, last June and since last summer a total of 65 additional services across all 26 counties have been running on average from 6pm to 11pm typically on Friday and Saturday.

Originally, it was intended that the pilot would end on December 31st last year after which the NTA would review the scheme.

However as part of an initial review, the NTA found that most of the services were performing and it felt that a six-month pilot was a relatively short period within which to gauge passenger usage and trends.

Useful service

A decision will be taken regarding future funding for the services at the end of March.

“I am pleased that almost all of the evening services will continue to run until March 31st, 2019,” said Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

“Tackling rural isolation and providing the means for people to meet, socialise and attend events is extremely important. I would encourage people to use their Local Links as much as possible so we can continue to provide, and hopefully increase, this very useful service.”

Last week it emerged that increased early morning Garda drink-driving checkpoints, as a result of tighter drink-driving laws, have come in for heavy criticism from Ministers.

Concerns

The Cabinet heard a number of concerns about the latest efforts by the Garda roads policing unit in rural Ireland. Among those who spoke on the issue were Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Business Heather Humphreys, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and Minster for Rural Development Michael Ring.

At a Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting after the reports of disquiet were detailed Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív raised the idea of hackney subsidies. Mr Ó Cúiv said he had “floated” the idea.

“What I am proposing is that through the Local Link companies a subsidy be given to service providers on an organised basis to provide local area hackney services in and around rural areas,” Mr Ó Cuív said.