Ireland’s NTA launches ambitious rural bus plan for 2023

Posted: 23 February 2023 | | No comments yet

NTA’s Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan for 2023 proposes to introduce 67 new or enhanced bus services to better connect rural towns and townlands across the country.

NTA Ireland's NTA launches ambitious rural bus plan for 2023

The Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, along with the National Transport Authority (NTA), has announced the launch of the Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan for 2023 in Tullamore, Ireland.

As part of the transport plan, 67 new or enhanced Connecting Ireland bus services have been proposed, strengthening existing services and connecting more towns and townlands across the state.

In 2022, Connecting Ireland had delivered 38 new and enhanced bus services across various counties, bringing new bus services to 67 additional towns. In addition, almost €4 million was invested in implementing Connecting Ireland bus services, but in 2023 that figure will double to €8.5 million, provided by the Department of Transport (DOT) and NTA.

These services are provided on behalf of NTA by 15 TFI Local Link offices nationwide, including Laois/ Offaly Local Link which is managed by Frances Byrne.

Bus Éireann will also be a key partner in the delivery of the new Connecting Ireland, with some 20 of the routes identified in the 2023 implementation plan to be delivered by the bus operator in counties such as Galway, Waterford, Clare and Cork.

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Response by customers to new services in rural Ireland has been very strong, with passenger numbers on buses returning to pre-COVID levels. This is particularly the case on TFI Local Link services in rural Ireland. The annual passenger journey figure for 2019 was 2.5 million and in 2022, they rose to 2.8 million, a recovery of 112% after the pandemic.  

Minister Eamon Ryan, said: “Massively improving rural transport is one of my key priorities as Minister for Transport. The Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan, launched in 2021, has already played a key role in towns and villages across Ireland and providing people with new choices to travel by bus. But now, we want to go further and build on that success with many more new and enhanced routes planned for 2023.”

Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority, said: “NTA is proud to launch our Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan for implementation in 2023, which will deliver better access to safe, reliable and more frequent bus services connecting towns and villages. The NTA is continuing its efforts to improve rural bus services by identifying areas that require additional services, and we are committed to continuing to develop connectivity and mobility in rural areas through the phased roll-out of new and enhanced bus services this year and in future years.”

The Connecting Ireland Plan continues to have a significant positive impact on rural communities, giving people access to high frequency public transport bus services and connecting locations to other regional Transport for Ireland (TFI) bus and rail services.