Fine Gael Kildare South TD Martin Heydon has called for the evening and weekend local link bus routes to be extended into 2019. Established by Transport Minister Shane Ross in July 2018 on a pilot basis following a proposal from the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party Chairman, the routes have been reporting increased passenger numbers.
With critics of the transport service now calling for it to be rolled out further, Deputy Heydon – the Fine Gael party chairman – said it is up to each community to ensure their bus services continues to be a success. Now is an ideal time for these services to be used more as people are out and about visiting and calling on neighbours over the festive season.
“I have been in communication with the Minister for Transport Shane Ross, highlighting the need to extend the pilot service into the New Year.
“There have been excellent reports around the country about the success and popularity of the extended Local Link services which have run over weekend evenings since July.
“In fact, the service is so popular that previous critics are now calling for further services for their county.
“Michael and Danny Healy Rae openly criticised the announcement of the scheme in Kerry at its commencement – yet in recent weeks they have called for increased services in their area in the Dáil.
“I know from talking to people on the ground and getting feedback around the country that the pilot service is working very well in many places including Galway, Mayo and Kildare.
“Where the service is available, local communities have taken to supporting it and using it to the extent that villages or areas not serviced by the scheme are looking for it to be rolled out there too.
“I understand that both young and old are using it in Galway where larger buses are needed, such is the demand. We need to look at further investment in areas where there is clearly a demand for it.”
Deputy Heydon continued: “There is immense flexibility in our rural transport network to support local residents.
“The extended Local Link pilot scheme is comprised of 20 extensions to existing rural transport routes and 30 demand responsive services, across 19 counties.
“It has helped those visiting friends and neighbours, attending GAA clubs, shopping centres, restaurants, pubs and social events, especially over the festive season.
“Local Link is already helping to address the issue of social isolation in rural areas and this extended pilot scheme highlights the potential of the service to continue to service a huge need. The successful pilot service must be extended and continued into 2019.”