The first meeting of the Government’s high level integrated rural transport committee took place today (4 April 2012) in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. The Committee was established by Government following a decision to examine the integration of transport services in rural areas. Minister for Public and Commuter Transport, Alan Kelly TD Chairs the Committee.
At present, Ireland spends upwards of €200 million on various transport services in rural areas. A Value for Money and Policy Review of the Rural Transport Programme was published in February 2012 and highlighted a number of key issues with services as they currently operate; these include;
- Services are operated by a range of state agencies with little or no link up between those services.
- Value for Money is not being achieved.
- Lack of transparency in allocation of costs and financial reporting
- Little or no reporting of any income earned through fares by RTPs, and so on.
Following the announcement in February of the Government’s new plans to integrate rural transport, Minister Kelly established a high-level Committee to oversee the initiative. Membership of the Committee consists of senior representatives of the National Transport Authority, the Department of Education and Science, the Department of Environment, Community and local Government, the HSE, the Rural Transport Network, Pobal, Irish Rural Link, the City and County Managers Association and Bus Eireann. Minister Kelly today reiterated that it is vital the Committee is now up and running so it can urgently begin addressing the issues that integrating rural transport will involve.
“This is new territory for the Government; but what we are doing here is examining how we can work smarter with existing resources, reduce duplication, waste and to preserve and build on existing services. We need to change our mind-set; public transport isn’t just an urban issue it’s also a very real issue in rural Ireland. The purpose of the Committee is to establish and implement a policy that will see the full integration of state transport services and eliminate duplication and provide some saving for the taxpayer while improving and enhancing services,” stated Minister Kelly.
“This is a new policy approach from the Government and there will be obstacles in the way. However given the strained financial situation and the urgent appetite for reform among the public, now is the time to try to drive this agenda forward” concluded the Minister.
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport Press Office. Tel: (01) 6041076/ (01) 6041090. Caroline Ryan (086) 891 5570.