Wednesday, 21 September 2022
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
33. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans in relation to the expansion of the rural transport scheme operated by Local Link; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46213/22]
I would like to thank the Deputy for the opportunity to further discuss the Rural Transport Programme funded by my Department and managed by the NTA under the TFI Local Link brand. My Department is strongly committed to improving public transport services in rural areas and to piloting new transport initiatives for people of all ages and abilities living there. Whether it is reduced car dependency, or a more integrated transport network, our vision for rural Ireland is ambitious, and one that is a key motivator as my Department prepares its work programme for 2023.
My Department and the NTA are supporting this by providing increased funding for enhancing TFI Local Link services, for both regular "timetabled" services, and "door-to-door" demand responsive services as well. Additionally, we are looking to explore alternative options to boost coverage by non-conventional options such as Demand Responsive Transport, Community Cars, and Local Area Hackneys.
Importantly, the ethos of “community-led transport” will also be maintained, as we are currently looking to expand the highly successful Community Car Scheme. We have also committed to reviewing the extensive learnings coming out of our pilot study in Co. Leitrim which positively integrated non-emergency health transport with public transport offerings.
One of the key plans for enhancing the existing transport network across Ireland falls under the previously discussed Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility plan,which aims to develop an integrated, accessible, and sustainable network of public transport offerings across Ireland. Currently, routes identified through the Connecting Ireland consultation process are being prioritised to provide emergency public transport services to areas where the population and transport demand has increased due to the requirement to house Ukrainian refugees in rural locations.
Having outlined some of the initiatives underway to expand rural transport offerings across Ireland, I am confident that together we will leave a legacy of a much more efficient framework for the provision of rural transport.