Low carbon rural public transport bus service fostering social inclusion and multimodality by providing connectivity to urban public transport bus and rail hubs
Local Link consists of 15 rural public transport companies operated for/by the local rural community. Local Link mission is “to provide a quality nationwide community based public transport system in rural Ireland which responds to local needs”. The network is flexible and is designed to meet local needs:
• Fostering Social Inclusion – Provides a public transport link to remote rural houses and rural areas that creates an outlet for essential, social and medical needs as it links to supermarkets, doctors, social centres etc
• Reducing Carbon Emissions – By providing a scheduled public transport service 6/7 times a week in remote areas it provides residents with a low carbon transport option and has encouraged commuters, school children and students to use the service
• Improved Connectivity and Multimodality – Local Link integrates with visitor attractions and urban public transport hubs which allows for onward connectivity to national bus and rail network used by residents, students and tourists. Local Link timetable is available on-line and is coordinated with urban public transport bus and rail timetables where possible
• Accessibility for all – Local Link provides accessible buses along with a night service and will divert these or their bus services, if pre-booked by phone as required for pick-ups at individual houses where residents have mobility difficulties
Local Link is a flexible programme that continues to grow and adapt to rural transport needs in Ireland
Local Link Rural Transport Programme 2018-2022 is part funded by the government at a cost of €14.3m per annum for the 15 local link operations. Waterford Local Link government support was €1.2m. The remainder of the funding comes from passenger fares which are in line with urban bus fares.
Evidence of success
Demand responsive door to door bus services in rural areas remains a cornerstone of what Local Link do, the development of higher frequency services operating 6 and 7 days a week are designed to ensure connectivity to urban transport hubs, improve social inclusion and contribute to supporting and sustaining the rural economy. The National Local Link Rural Transport Programme has seen passenger journeys increase from 1.76 million in 2015 to 1.89 million in 2017 an increase of 7%.
• Lack of funding for infrastructure e.g. bus stops and shelters along routes
• Insufficient consultation with the Local Council Development Plan
• Lack of a Transport Plan for the County
• Requirement for Transport Companies to retender for contract every 4 years
Potential for learning or transfer
• This good practice is easily transferable to other regions and countries who wish to improve modal interchange to encourage more sustainable communities and end-to-end journeys in rural areas and thereby reduce CO2 emissions.
• The success of this good practice is as a result of involving local community representatives in specifically designing a flexible rural transport network to meet the local rural needs which are fully accessible to all passengers.
• This good practice has been shared with all project partners in the MATCH-UP project.
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