Rural villages across Ireland will have access to viable public transport for the first time under the Connecting Ireland Plan the government published for public consultation.
The National Transport Authority’s (NTA) plan proposes an overall increase of 25% in rural bus services.
According to the Green Party, this “significantly increases” public transport connectivity for people living outside major cities and towns.
Connecting Ireland Plan
Brian Leddin TD, Green Party Spokesperson for Transport, Climate Action and Environment, welcomed the announcement:
“It is critical that we enhance our regional transport network. This plan is the first step towards improved connectivity between our rural towns and villages and our regional cities.”
“The plan will mean that more than 70% of those living outside of cities will have access to a public transport service that provides at least three return trips each weekday to a nearby town.”
“We will need to first implement this plan and then increase the frequency of services so that people living in or near villages have a viable alternative to using the car while ensuring that services are fast and direct.”
He said a “frequent, reliable and direct” public transport system is “key” to reducing rural isolation and dependency on cars, as Ireland works towards climate goals and net-zero emissions targets.
“This is another positive example of Ireland taking action on climate, ahead of COP26 in Glasgow next week.”
Make living in rural areas a more viable option
Senator Róisín Garvey, Green Party Spokesperson for Rural Development and Enterprise, Trade and Employment, added;
“We have made a commitment in Government to a ‘Town Centres First’ policy that will bring life and vibrancy back to our regional towns and rural villages.”
“This is only possible if we have a robust public transport system in place. This will enable not only businesses to thrive but will make living in rural communities a more viable option for those looking for alternatives to our cities.”
“I am delighted to see the Connecting Ireland Plan published for public consultation. We need the input and voices of rural Ireland at the heart of this plan to get it right.”
“The plan will also address improved mobility options for those in remote areas. I welcome the fact that the consultation process includes engagement with the disability community living in rural Ireland.”
In developing the Connecting Ireland Plan, the NTA engaged with a range of stakeholders, including public bodies and state agencies.
The next step will involve broader public consultation, including information sessions with local authorities and the Oireachtas and public information webinars.