Night-time rural transport Scheme launched

A pilot rural transport scheme was launched by Minister Éamon Ó Cuív in Drumboylan on Tuesday morning last. Speaking at the launch, he criticised the idea that the buses involved were ‘booze buses’ and stressed that what was proposed is a night-time rural transport scheme to tackle rural isolation.             He referred to a ‘stream of articles and reports about the fact that I was going to set up a fleet of ‘booze buses’, supposedly to ferry drunks to and from the pub and up and down every highway, byway and laneway of rural Ireland.’             ‘Article after article derided the idea that people in rural areas might have a night-time transport system to ferry them to and from the pub. Regional newspapers, and indeed the regional correspondents of national newspapers, reported accurately what I actually said, which was that I was proposing a night-time rural transport system to tackle rural social isolation, which would be community-led and provide transport to social gatherings, bingo, mass, youth clubs etc. etc. etc. – and amongst those would be transport to the pub.             ‘Generally in rural areas, there are no public transport services at night. While there are, in the more developed rural areas, either hackney or taxi services, these are totally at the discretion of the providers of these services and do not provide a guaranteed service to rural people. I believe, therefore, that there is a need in rural Ireland for an evening transport service to allow rural people to fully participate in the various activities – community, sporting and social – that takes place in their areas and to address the market failure that currently exists.             ‘Accordingly, I am delighted to be here today to launch the pilot night-time transport scheme and to thank, in advance, the seven groups who are taking on the task of running this pilot for the next year.             ‘All services will focus on maximising the general community good and I have every confidence that the seven groups will do a very good job, given the experience and know-how they bring from their work on the broader Rural Transport Programme. I look forward to hearing about the results of the pilot over the next 12 months and hearing the different success stories that the new service will facilitate and bring about.’