Increase in Rural Bus Services Planned Under NTA’s Connecting Ireland Proposals

In the National Transport Authority map Castleisland appears to be linked with the kind of inclusivity once promised by the Great Southern and Western Railway system between Tralee and Killarney. But is there a plan to include the likes of Brosna, Knocknagoshel and Scartaglin ?
Cllr. Fionnán Fitzgerald is creating awareness and urging input to the NTA plans from Castleisland and its hinterland.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) is proposing an overall increase of approximately 25% in rural bus services as part of the five-year Connecting Ireland plan that was published for public consultation on Friday.

The Connecting Ireland plan is a major national public transport initiative developed by the NTA with the aim of increasing public transport connectivity, particularly for people living outside our major cities and towns.

Rural Development Policy

The plan aligns with the current national policy framework including the Rural Development Policy 2021-2025, Project Ireland 2040 and the Climate Action Plan.

Connecting Ireland proposes to expand the public transport network in rural areas and to increase service levels.

As a result: 70% of people in rural Ireland will have access to public transport service that provides at least three return trips daily to the nearby town and this compares to the current figure of 53%.

Over 100 rural villages will benefit from frequent public transport service – at least three return trips daily for the first time.

Three Return Trips Daily

Over 100 rural areas will benefit from a regular service, at least three return trips daily to their county town for the first time.

There will be over 60 new connections to regional cities from surrounding areas.

Improved mobility options for those in remote areas with the provision of Demand Responsive and other innovative transport services.

Minister for Transport and Green Party leader, Eamon Ryan said that the Connecting Ireland plan will significantly increase both the number of routes and the frequency of existing services right across the country.

A Viable Public Transport Link

“Hundreds of rural villages and areas will, for the first time, be served by a viable public transport link,” he said.

“To have strong local economies and to give people real options for getting around you need good public transport links – this plan represents a step-change in delivering good quality public transport in rural Ireland.

“If we are to deliver on our emissions targets, we need to make sure that people have the services and alternatives they need. My department allocated €5.6m from budget 2022 to the NTA so that as early as next year the NTA can begin investing in these services and giving people those alternatives,” said Minister Ryan.

Local Link Offices

Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA said that Connecting Ireland is among the most important plans that NTA has produced in recent years.

“Our TFI Local Link network operates in every part of the country and the local knowledge we have gathered over the years through our Local Link offices has been invaluable to us in putting together these plans.

“We know that for many people, living in a village or in a rural area can mean that accessing services, or employment, or education, or even retail is difficult if not impossible, without using a private car.

Expanding Public Transport Network

“We want to change that and I believe that expanding the public transport network and increasing service levels, in the way we are proposing, will mean that more people in rural areas will have greater levels of freedom whether or not they have a car.

“But it’s not about what I believe. What’s more important now is for us to get the views of members of the public – particularly those in rural areas – about Connecting Ireland.

“We’re asking people to go to link below and read the details about what Connecting Ireland means for your area and your county, and give us your feedback,” said Ms. Graham.

The public consultation process commenced on Friday and Cllr. Fionnán Fitzgerald said that the views of the people in the Castleisland area would be very important to the formation of the final plans for the initiative.

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