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Over 100 rural villages to have frequent public transport service for first time under new plan

The plan was published today for public consultation.

Image: Shutterstock/kenstockphoto

OVER 100 RURAL villages will have a frequent public transport service for the first time under a new plan published for public consultation today.

The National Transport Authority’s (NTA) Connecting Ireland plan proposes an overall increase of approximately 25% in rural bus services over a period of five years.

The NTA said the plan proposes to expand the public transport network in rural areas and to increase service levels, with results that include:

  • 70% of people in rural Ireland will have access to public transport service that provides at least three return trips daily to the nearby town. This compares to the current figure of 53%;
  • Over 100 rural villages will benefit from frequent public transport service (at least three return trips daily) for the first time;
  • Over 100 rural areas will benefit from a regular service, at least three return trips daily to their county town for the first time;
  • There will be over 60 new connections to regional cities from surrounding areas;
  • Improved mobility options for those in remote areas with the provision of Demand Responsive and other innovative transport services.

Details on individual plans for each county can be found here.

Speaking today, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said:

“To have strong local economies and to give people real options for getting around you need good public transport links – this plan represents a step-change in delivering good quality public transport in rural Ireland.”

Minister Ryan said the government needs to make sure people have the services and alternatives they need if Ireland is to meet emission targets. 

“My department allocated €5.6 million from budget 2022 to the NTA so that as early as next year the NTA can begin investing in these services and giving people those alternatives,” he said. 

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CEO of the NTA, Anne Graham, acknowledged that for many people, living in a rural area can mean that accessing services, employment, education, or retail is “difficult if not impossible”, without using a private car.

“We want to change that,” she said. “I believe that expanding the public transport network and increasing service levels, in the way we are proposing, will mean that more people in rural areas will have greater levels of freedom whether or not they have a car.”

The public consultation process for the plan starts today and the NTA is asking members of the public – particularly those in rural areas – to share their views. 

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