State-funded 'drink-link' bus will service 50 rural communities
A new State-subsidised bus service will transport rural residents to and from their local pubs this summer, the Sunday Independent can reveal.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross will this week announce 50 'drink-link' bus routes across the country.
The new routes will be in operation in 19 counties and operate mostly on weekends between 6pm and 11pm.
The scheme is aimed at allaying fears over rural isolation ahead of the introduction of strict new drink-driving laws. Around 188 weekly pub-runs will be in operation from June until December on a trial basis and at a cost of €450,000.
Counties Kerry, Cork, Donegal, Kildare, Waterford, Wexford, Cavan, Monaghan, Offaly and Laois will have their own 'drink-link' routes from June until December.
The new routes will be operated as an extension of the Local Link service in rural communities.
It is hoped this will allow people living in rural communities to visit their local pubs in the evenings and at the weekend. Rural TDs have argued that plans to introduce a three-month mandatory ban for drivers found to have reached an alcohol limit of between 50-80mg per 100ml will negatively impact their constituents.
Mr Ross has been locked in an ongoing battle with rural TDs and senators over his decision to increase penalties for motoring offences.