Minister of Transport Eamon Ryan announced that the Department of Transport and National Transport Authority (NTA) will provide emergency public transport services to Ukrainian refugees placed in rural locations.
The department and the NTA will accelerate a series of network improvements identified through the Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan public consultation to support increased overall demand for public transport services. Improvements include additional stops, route modifications, and more services with the aim to increase connectivity for those based outside of bigger towns and cities. This acceleration serves a dual purpose by catering for both existing demand as well as responding to the increased pressures on services where the local population has grown in response to the humanitarian crisis.
In addition, to support Ukrainian refugees housed away from existing public transport services, the NTA will provide supplementary transport connections to local centres. This will enable better access to a range of amenities and to onward public transport connections to larger centres where they may have friends and family.
Minister Ryan said, “We want to be a welcoming country and an accessible country to our Ukrainian guests. My department and the National Transport Authority are working closely with TFI Local Link offices in rural Ireland to mobilise all available resources to strengthen our existing public transport services. We are doing this practically and quickly by adding extra stops and routes where a need has been identified. We want to ensure that passengers have access to essential services such as shopping centres, places of employment, and medical centres.”
Minister Ryan added, “As we continue to welcome individuals and families arriving in Ireland from Ukraine, a once-off Community Transport Fund will also be established to support occasional social travel requests. It is vital that our guests do not feel isolated while they are with us and that they are supported with public transport to join in the many activities that are available in our towns, in particular, activities focused on youth, integration, culture and education.”
The accelerated bus services coming on stream are part of the Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan, a major national public transport initiative to increase public transport connectivity, particularly for people living outside the major cities and towns on a phased basis from 2022 to 2025. Connecting Ireland is funded by the Department of Transport and managed by the NTA.