19 counties will be serviced with extra evening schedules

A new state funded 'drink link' bus will service 50 rural communities across Ireland.

The scheme is to be announced in full this week but is expected to serve 19 counties including Kerry, Cork and Monaghan.

The bus will transport rural residents to and from their local pubs between June and December in a bid to tackle rural isolation.

Fine Gael's Martin Heydon, Kildare South TD and Chair of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, first proposed the night bus service to Minister for Transport Shane Ross last autumn. 

 “I am delighted that Minister Ross has now agreed to proceed with my proposal for a rural night bus service, following his consultation with the National Transport Authority on my proposal. 

“In light of the new drink driving rules coming into force, I felt it was extremely important that we provide practical solutions to help combat potential isolation in our rural communities.

There will be 188 additional weekly bus runs to bring people into their local towns and villages in the evening time.

The new local link bus scheme is going to run from 6pm to 11pm in a pilot project across 50 routes in 19 counties, including Kildare, Kerry, Cork, Laois, Offaly, Donegal, Waterford, Wexford, Cavan, Monaghan.

Deputy Heydon says its a great result for rural Ireland for connecting communities and addressing social isolation in a practical way.

“Beyond this extensive pilot, which I believe highlights the massive potential of our rural transport network, I wish to see a change in how we as a State approach public transport in rural areas. Policy formation in this area has often been an after-thought rather than an integral part of overall public transport policy.