Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has welcomed a discussion about the future of public transport at the recent Rural Ideas Forum and says the Government have “ambitious” plans to “reverse decades of neglect” in terms of rural transport.
Minister Ryan addressed the forum and discussed the Connecting Ireland plan which aims to significantly improve rural public transport links and has already seen a number of new Local Link services introduced in Kerry.
“Our vision for rural Ireland is ambitious, and one that is a key priority in the Programme for Government,” he said.
“As people start to return to work, school or college after the summer holidays, we are seeing an increasing demand for public transport. But, it’s not enough that this demand is concentrated in our large towns and cities, we have to ensure that people in smaller towns or in townlands around those towns can also benefit from high quality, frequent public transport,” said the Minister.
“That’s the vision and that’s the aim, and I am confident that we will, together, help reverse decades of neglect in this area and leave instead a legacy that will ensure that rural transport can continue to develop and expand.” Mister Ryan said.
Announced last year, the National Transport Authority’s (NTA) Connecting Ireland five-year plan envisages a 25-per-cent increase in rural Local Link bus services that will see over 100 rural villages across the country provided with regular, bus services for the first time.
In Kerry, 13 villages were added to a significantly expanded bus network, offering people the ability to easily travel to all parts of the county by bus.
The biggest changes are to come along the Ring of Kerry where a new two-way daily bus service is the centrepiece of the local plan.
In north Kerry new coastal bus routes have been designed to better link the Tarbert and Ballybunion region with both Tralee and Limerick.
Minister Ryan also discussed new “Pathfinder Projects” – sustainable rural mobility initiatives – that he has asked local authorities to identify and which could be delivered in the next two years.