The Government has announced that its pilot programmes for evening and late night rural transport services will be extended until the end of the year.
The pilot Local Link programmes had been due to expire at the end of last year but they were extended until the first quarter of 2019 to allow the services to gain more traction.
Now the taxi and community transport based programmes will be extended again until the end of the 2019.
This is very welcome support for Rural Ireland from the Department of Transport with the budget now standing for all Local Link programmes at €21 million for 2019.
People living in Rural Ireland need more transport options and these initiatives deliver to that need.
The decision to extend the services follows a review by the National Transport Authority.
The services that are continuing nationally are 36 demand responsive services and 23 extensions to existing regular public transport services. The services will be provided nationally across 26 counties.
Two new pilot schemes have also been announced. The first relates to the Local Area Hackney Scheme to enable a part-time Hackney service in rural areas that are too small to support full-time taxi or Hackney services. It will simply the administration of the Local Area Hackney Application process and pilot services in each of the 15 Local Link offices nationally for areas that have no service operating at all.
The other pilot project will be for not-for-profit Community Transport Services, where grant contributions will be available to help cover overall costs.
The community services must be run by people concerned for the welfare of their community or communities, there must be no financial again and they must operate where there are no existing services.