Plan an increase in the pace of gathering rural public transport

A number of new bus routes for the Midlands are in the works.

Projects to increase and improve rural transport take another step this week.

The 2022 implementation schedule for the Connecting Ireland rural mobility plan has been published, which includes proposals for new bus routes in the Midlands.

It marks the first year of Connecting Ireland funding as part of a €55 million commitment to the government’s program to radically improve rural public transport.

It follows a 20% reduction in public transport fares introduced this year and a 50% reduction in travel for young adults (aged 19-23).

Early indications show a 10% increase in the use of public transport outside the greater Dublin area since costs were reduced.

In response to the news, Junior Agriculture Minister and Green Party Senator for Offaly, Pippa Hackett said;

“We are committed to ensuring a more affordable, accessible, efficient and frequent rural public transport service. This first phase of the Connecting Ireland rural mobility plan sets out what can be achieved this year, as another essential first step towards transforming the way people can move around this country in the year ahead. We have reduced transport fares, something we will work hard to continue, and now we are committed to increasing the availability and frequency of rural transport.

The Connecting Ireland rural mobility plan aims to create a more integrated, accessible and sustainable public transport network for rural Ireland.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has released the first phase of the implementation plan, which includes an overview of new routes already in service, routes that are due to go into procurement and routes that are expected to enter the phase of planning and design. .

In Offaly, the 840 bus from Banagher to Tullamore is already in service, while the 823 Birr bus to Portlaoise is expected to be in service by October.

Further north at Westmeath, the 819 will serve Mullingar to Athlone, via Castletown Geoghegan.

An A13 service between Roscrea and Athlone is currently in the planning and design stage, as is an extension of Route 29 Athlone to Drogheda, and a new 41 service linking Mullingar to Dundalk, via Kells and Ardee.

New regional corridors are also proposed, including Portlaoise to Wexford and Athlone to Cavan, via Longford. Regional corridors generally run along major roads, connecting towns and cities and any settlements along the way. The Connecting Ireland program aims to improve the level of service during the day, evenings and weekends on the regional corridors by liaising with existing service providers, improving existing services and possibly adding new services.

Implementation dates are indicative and may change for a number of reasons. Variables can include the length of the planning and design process, liaison with different stakeholders; discussions with operators, and availability of service providers and drivers.

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