Friday 22 March 2019

Revealed: Late night rural bus services will only run up until 11pm at weekends

Demand could be limited
Demand could be limited
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

LATE night bus services across rural Ireland will only run up to 11pm at weekends, which could limit demand.

The Dáil Transport Committee heard that 50 new late-night services across rural Ireland will begin operating from the end of next month on a six-month trial basis between 6pm and 11pm.

But no applications for funding were made by five local link offices, which will operate the schemes.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said the National Transport Authority (NTA) was in discussions with offices in Galway, Sligo/Leitrim/Roscommon, Mayo, Clare and Limerick to see if routes could be identified.

He also said the pilot would cost €450,000 to administer, and the pilot would be assessed on the basis of how it addressed rural isolation.

He would ask the NTA to consider, during its assessment of the pilot scheme, whether it should be extended beyond 11pm to account for closing hours.

“I’m grateful for the general welcome which this has received. We’re very enthusiastic that it should be given a good chance. It is not a final scheme. It is something which has to be built on. But at the moment, the general welcome from rural Ireland is something I find extremely gratifying,” he said.

“If there are gaps, I’m sure the NTA will be more than happy to fill them.

“This is not a commercial operation. The main metric I would urge the NTA to use is to reduce problems in rural Ireland of connectivity and to improve the quality of people’s lives. That’s the most important thing. Society must connect up.”

In all, 50 new services across 19 counties will be introduced which include extensions to 20 existing public transport services, and another 30 “demand responsive” services.

In some cases, these ‘demand responsive’ services will call to people’s doors, and the buses will not just facilitate trips to the pub.

In all, 188 new trips per week will be added to network of rural transport services.

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