Keel/Castlemaine Rural Community Transport Idea – Almost Nationwide

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar seeing the pilot Keel-Castlemaine LIFT Scheme in operation outside Murphy’s Bar in Keel recently with Minister Brendan Griffin, Tommy Griffin and two of the pilot volunteers, Jason Lenihan and Timmy Griffin.

Arising from the ongoing success of the Keel-Castlemaine LIFT Scheme, Local Individually Flexible Transport, which was initiated by Minister Brendan Griffin and Tommy Griffin last February, a new national scheme has been announced.

Funding Available

Funding is being provided by the Department of Transport to pilot similar community transport services in each of the fifteen Local Link Office areas, including Kerry, at a cost of €5,000 per project for a twelve month period.

Local Administration

The grant aid is designed to provide a contribution towards the overall costs of running the service.

The schemes will be administered locally by the existing network of Local Link Offices, while overall management, funding and regulation will rest with the National Transport Authority.

There’s also good news for people considering establishing a Local Area Hackney Service.

Too Small for Taxis

The Local Area Hackney Scheme was first introduced in December 2013 to enable a part-time hackney service to be provided in rural areas which are too small to support a full time taxi or hackney operations.

Experience to date of the Local Area Hackney Scheme is that take up is low. The key barriers to entry to the scheme have been identified as the cost of insurance and the level of bureaucracy in the application process.

Response to Barriers

In response to these barriers the new pilot initiative will, at first, simplify the administration involved in the Local Area Hackney application process and then pilot a number of hackney services that will receive grant-aid in areas that have no hackney or taxi service operating currently.

There will be one pilot project in each of the fifteen Local Link Offices areas, including Kerry, at a cost of €5,000 per project for a twelve month period.

Case by Case Basis

This funding is designed to provide a contribution towards the insurance costs associated with providing the service, with the value of the grant aid to be determined on a case by case basis.

A call for applications for both pilot schemes will be made by Local Link Offices next month.

‘Outstanding Success’

“Our Keel-Castlemaine LIFT Scheme is an outstanding success and a game changer for our community,” said Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin, TD.

It’s here to stay and I would be delighted to work with other communities here in Kerry who don’t have existing commercial hackney or taxi services to assist them to avail of these new pilots.

Affordable and Effective

“I’m determined to ensure that people living in rural communities can avail of transport when they need it and in Keel and Castlemaine, we have proven that it can be done affordably and effectively. “We have made over one thousand two hundred passenger journeys in just our first seventy five nights of service, a remarkable take-up level in a small rural community.

“I want to see similar services throughout rural Ireland to tackle the challenge of rural isolation and lack of transport once and for all,” Minister Griffin concluded.

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