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rural transport

Number of passengers using Local Link service rises by 360% in four years

In 2020, a total of 686,485 passengers used the service, rising to 3,200,263 in 2023.

THERE HAS BEEN a significant increase in the number of passengers taking rural Local Link services across Ireland over the past four years, new figures show.

Figures from the Department of Transport show that the numbers taking Local Links - bus services in Ireland providing local public transport in rural areas – shot up by over 360% between 2020 and 2023.

In 2020, a total of 686,485 passengers used the service, rising to 3,200,263 in 2023.

While 2020 was during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the numbers have also risen by about 360% since 2019. 

The increase reflects the expansion of the Local Link network in recent years, with Department of Transport figures showing that 66 new services have been introduced since 2020.

This includes 16 new services in the Donegal-Sligo-Leitrim area, eight in the Limerick-Clare area and six each in Galway and Kerry. As well as this, services have been enhanced in different areas.

A commitment to review the operation of Local Link and a recognition of its importance is contained in the 2020 Programme for Government, as part of wider plans to improve public transport in Ireland.

Commenting on the increase in passenger numbers in a statement, Transport Minister and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said people were “flocking to public transport”.

“I think we are finally beginning to turn the corner on the perception that rural transport doesn’t exist, or that it’s too infrequent to be useful,” he said.

We have much more work to do but the past two years in particular have seen an explosion in numbers that many never imagined and which really shows what can happen when you have a concerted strategy.

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