Improved bus routes in Waterford

Improved bus routes in Waterford

Green Party TD for Waterford Marc Ó Cathasaigh has welcomed the extension of rural transport with the announcement of 67 new or enhanced Connecting Ireland bus routes which will strengthen existing services and connect more towns and villages nationwide.

This extension in services throughout Waterford was announced by Deputy Ó Cathasaigh’s Green Party colleague and the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD. Some of the new services will link up Waterford towns, villages and townlands with surrounding counties as a result of today’s announcement which sees one of the most ambitious plans yet for rural transport come to fruition. Last year, Connecting Ireland delivered 38 new and enhanced bus services across various counties, bringing new bus services to 67 additional towns as a result of an investment of €4m. This year the figure will double to €8.5m provided by the Department of Transport and NTA.

These services are provided on behalf of the NTA by 15 TFI Local Link offices nationwide including Waterford Local Link which is regarded as one of the most successful Local Link projects in the country. Bus Éireann, will also be a key partner in delivery of new Connecting Ireland services this year. Some 20 of the routes identified in the 2023 implementation plan are to be delivered by Bus Éireann in counties such as Galway, Waterford, Clare and Cork.

Speaking after the announcement, Deputy Ó Cathasaigh said:

“The entire Connecting Ireland project is the single biggest investment in rural public transport in the history of the state bringing new public transport routes to Waterford people with significant benefits to our rural communities. Enhancing public transport options for our rural towns and villages is a cornerstone of Green Party Policy which will help address rural isolation, contribute to our climate targets and help revitalise our towns and villages. It is a key Programme for Government commitment which will significantly increase the frequency of existing services but will also increase the number of routes throughout Waterford.”

“Rural areas which have been neglected by previous transport options will now be served by good quality public transport as we move another step closer to improved connectivity between our rural towns and villages and our regional cities. When the Connecting Ireland plan is fully implemented, 70% of those living outside of cities will have access to a public transport service that provides at least three return trips each weekday to a nearby town. The heart has left many parts of rural Ireland over the last couple of decades but this plan will help bring the life back as residents will now have more access to the towns in their locality.”

Deputy Ó Cathasaigh continued:

“The Local Link network is already very successful throughout Waterford and this plan builds on that success. Local Link stepped in to replace Suirway services when that company left the market in 2022 and the Waterford service which is managed by James O’Donoghue is one of the more successful services in the country. Most people living in rural Ireland need to drive to access services, go to work, school or go shopping and large numbers of people in rural Ireland don’t have access to a car. This new investment in Rural Public Transport will give them options they don’t have at the moment. It will give people a choice and it will help reduce car dependency.”

“Todays announcement sees the creation of a new service between Dungarvan and Clonmel, the extension of a service which will link up Youghal, Dungarvan and Villierstown and the extension of the 361 service from Ardmore to Dungarvan which will now extend to Youghal. The 354 which links up Dunmore East and Portlaw will now extend to Carrick on Suir and we will see increased frequency on the 360 between Waterford and Tramore and the 370 between Waterford and Wexford.”

“It has been said for many years that public transport in rural Ireland is very poor because that has been the case for many years. Since the Green Party entered government making rural public transport a national priority, we have seen many new routes which are now well used. I hear of young people regularly travelling between Dunmore East and Tramore or from Tramore to Dungarvan which shows that when we provide a valuable rural service, people will use it.”

Commenting at today’s launch, Green Party Minister for Transport 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. It’s clear that when you build it, they will come. We know from last year’s statistics that people respond positively to new routes and services, backed up by our new cheaper fares. Young people, in particular, are choosing to use public transport more which is great. It’s more convenient, it’s more accessible and frequent than it’s been and it’s cheaper than driving and paying for a parking spot all day in college or school. The more people choose public transport the better it is for our environment as well. Public transport, both rural and urban, is a key to Ireland meeting our emissions targets.”

The Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan, an initiative of the NTA, is an ambitious programme of enhancements to create a more integrated, accessible and sustainable public transport network for rural Ireland.
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 TFI bus and rail services.

The factors for the growth in Local Link public transport passenger numbers include:

• Connecting Ireland – new and enhanced routes for the TFI Local Link network offering more local and regional connectivity;
• The addition of cashless payment options including TFI Leap and TFI Go; and
• A reduction in the cost of fares – 20% cost of living.

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 2.5m. Covid had a serious impact on passenger numbers in 2020 and 2021, but in 2022, they rose to 2.8m, a recovery of 112%. Weekly passenger numbers peaked at over 45,000 on weeks in November and December 2022, confirming people’s desire to use the improved and enhanced services.