State to fund rural 'drink link' bus routes
A new State-subsidised bus service will transport rural residents to and from their local pubs this summer, the Sunday Independent can reveal.
Transport Minister Shane Ross will this week announce 50 'drink link' bus routes across the country.
The new service will operate in 19 counties, mostly on weekends between 6pm and 11pm.
The scheme is aimed at allaying fears over rural isolation ahead of the introduction of strict drink-driving laws.
Around 188 weekly pub runs will be in operation from June until December on a trial basis at a cost of €450,000.
Kerry, Cork Donegal, Kildare, Waterford, Wexford, Cavan, Monaghan, Offaly and Laois are among the counties where 'drink link' routes will be brought in.
The new service will be operated as an extension of the Local Link bus service.
It is hoped it will allow people living in rural communities to visit their local pubs in the evenings and at the weekend.
Mr Ross has been locked in an onoing battle with rural TDs over his decision to increase penalties for motoring offences.