Dáil Éireann - Volume 647 - 20 February, 2008
Written Answers. - Rural Transport Scheme.
Deputy Billy Timmins Deputy Billy Timmins
Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has a pilot rural transport scheme that operates in the evening time; if so the number of these that are operating; the manner of same; his plans to extend it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7193/08]
Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív
Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: As the Deputy is aware, in many rural areas, there are no public transport services at night. While there are, in the more developed rural areas, either hackney or taxi services, these are at the discretion of the providers of these services and do not provide a guaranteed service to rural people.
 It was against this background, therefore, that in May 2007 I introduced a new evening transport service, on a pilot basis, to allow rural people to fully participate in the various activities — community, sporting and social — that take place in their areas. The new Scheme also aims to address the market failure that currently exists in this area.
The 34 groups currently delivering the Rural Transport Programme — operated by the Department of Transport — were invited to submit applications to be considered under my Department’s new scheme. Following the appraisal of the proposals submitted, seven groups were selected to run the pilot Scheme, namely:
West Cork Rural Transport;
Avondhu Development Group in East Cork;
Meath Accessible/Kilnaleck Community Cavan;
County Sligo LEADER Partnership;
Tumna Shannon Development Company Roscommon;
Síob Teoranta Donegal; and
The budget for the pilot is €500,000. The first service commenced in June 2007 and service numbers and passenger numbers increased throughout the Autumn. Although only in the early stages yet, I understand that the services are being very well received by communities and passengers alike. Indications are that older people, people with a disability and young people are particularly enthusiastic about the new services and new activities are being planned around the availability of services.
All services focus on maximising the general community good and I am, of course, conscious of the need to ensure that no displacement takes place of commercially viable existing services as a result of the introduction of the new scheme.
My intention is that the pilot Scheme will be reviewed after a year and decisions in relation to its future will be informed by the outcome of the evaluation.
Dáil Éireann 647 Written Answers. Rural Transport Scheme.