Expansion plans for Rural Transport Scheme
The introduction of a new weekend evening bus pilot scheme from Granard to Longford could be just the start in combating the effects of rural isolation, it has been claimed.
The National Transport Authority confirmed it had included a Friday and Saturday service connecting the towns of Granard, Ballinalee and Longford as part of a countrywide pilot scheme spanning 19 different counties.
Local Cllr Micheal Carrigy, who has been Longford County Council's representative on the Longford/Westmeath Community Transport body for the past four years, said efforts to expand the service are already in train.
“There is already a three times a day service on that route (Granard-Ballinalee-Longford) and we are trying to link in with buses that go to Dublin during the mornings,” he said.
“We are looking at expanding it to the south of the county as well so that, in time, every area will be covered.”
The Fine Gael general election candidate also urged anyone who may feel their village or town is currently not adequately serviced to make contact with him.
His party colleague and constituency running mate, Peter Burke TD, said there was plenty of merit in ensuring rural communities in Longford are predisposed to rural transport services.
“It was critical that Longford was included in the pilot scheme for a new night bus service,” he said.
“In light of the new drink driving rules coming into force to increase safety on our roads, it is important to provide practical solutions to help combat potential isolation in our rural communities.”
Mr Burke said the addition of a new weekend evening service would inevitably make serviceable towns much more attractive both to locals and visitors to the area.
“Communities and local businesses in Granard, Balinalee and Longford will be able to organise new activities and events to attract residents in the evening, now that they know those residents will have this evening bus service available to them,” he said.