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Dublin: 17 °C Friday 7 August, 2020

Just 18 companies will now run the rural transport scheme

A major overhaul of the Rural Transport Programme was announced today with opposition TD saying it could mean a reduction in services.

EARLIER TODAY THE government announced a major restructuring of the Rural Transport Programme (RTP) that will reduce the number of companies running services.

The programme, which was established in 2007, was described by the Department of Transport today as having a “very poor organisational structure with exceptionally high administration costs”.

It is currently run by 35 independent companies and Public Transport Minister Alan Kelly said today that this will now be reduced to 18 ‘Transport Co-Ordination Units’. These units will be based in local authorities and will co-ordinate the running of transport services within the area.

Kelly said they will become a “go-to” point for rural communities to address their transport needs and will be staffed by personnel from the existing companies currently in operation.

Access to transport is a major quality of life issue – especially for elderly people. This will give a lifeline to many communities in tackling the very serious problem of rural isolation and represents a major overhaul of the Rural Transport Programme but one that will lead to major improvements.

The new units will also be responsible for maintaining databases of people in rural areas with specific transport needs.

The announcement was met with skepticism by opposition TDs with Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley saying it seemed to him that cutting the amount of companies will result in a reduction in the current service provided.

“I hope this is not a cynical attempt by the government to sneak cuts into the service,” he said. “If, in fact, funding is to be cut and the service reduced, the government needs to be upfront on this.”

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