Rural Transport Programme/TFI Local Link

The National Transport Authority is responsible for the Rural Transport Programme/TFI Local Link. TFI Local Link is managed and administered nationally by 15 Transport Co-ordination Units who are operating on behalf of Transport for Ireland (TFI).

TFI Local Link operate two different types of service; Regular Rural Bus Services and Door-to-Door Bus Services. Regular Rural Bus Services operate on a fixed route between towns and villages and have a scheduled timetable, just like any other public transport bus service. Door to Door Services are route-based services with the added benefit of collecting and dropping off passengers directly at their homes.

TFI Local Link focusses on responding to rural isolation and enhancing the mobility, accessibility and community participation of local people, particularly those at risk of social exclusion. The programme was originally managed by Pobal when it was first piloted in 2002 and in 2013 responsibility for the programme transferred to the NTA. The NTA provides strategic transport and planning oversight of the RTP and aims to integrate services fully into existing national rail and bus routes and timetables.  For further details of TFI Local Links strategic plan, click here.

There are around 1,350 Door to Door bus services across the TFI Local Link network along with over 90 Regular Rural routes. Passenger numbers had been increasing steadily up until the pandemic and reached 2.5m passenger journeys in 2019.

Almost 400 operators employ over 900 drivers to deliver the services, covering over 12 million kilometres annually. 90% of service journeys are wheelchair accessible. Full details on all services operating in your local area can be found here.

This year, the NTA will be piloting fully electric buses in rural settings, as part of our national effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. This will build on the NTA’s experience of delivering both hybrid electric buses in Dublin and Galway in 2021 and fully electric buses in Athlone and Dublin in 2022.

The Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility plan is a major national initiative aimed at increasing connectivity, particularly for people outside the major towns and cities, and new services will be introduced over the next five years (starting 2022), for both rural routes and regional routes. TFI Local Link services may expand or alter over the years as the Connecting Ireland vision is delivered. More information on Connecting Ireland is available here.

The NTA and the Department of Transport fund a pilot study of several “Community Car” schemes across Ireland. The study will assess the effectiveness of Community Cars in bridging the gap between Community Cars are run by volunteers and local charities with the support of your local TFI Local Link office. They offer free travel to communities or groups where there are no alternative transport options available. Community Car schemes are governed by Part 7 of The Taxi Regulation Act 2013, and defined Community Transport Services. Schemes require exemption by the NTA from the Act and drivers require Garda vetting. Drivers may only recoup expenses for the service and may not set fares to make a profit. Any charity or organisation wishing to set up their own Community Car scheme in their area should first contact their TFI Local Link office (link here) to determine the availability and suitability of alternative transport options.

Key Features:

  • Over 90 RRS routes (scheduled services) and 1,350 Demand Responsive services
  • Travelling over 12 million kilometres annually
  • Almost 400 Private Operators provide the services involving over 900 drivers
  • As well as providing regular public transport services and Demand Responsive services, the Programme also funds the provision of community and voluntary schemes groups to help address rural social exclusion, including the Community Car scheme
  • 90% of TFI Local Link bus services have provisions for children’s buggies and wheelchairs

For more information please visit the TFI Local Link website or drop into your nearest TFI Local Link office.

Details of scheduled TFI Local Link Services are also available via the TFI Journey Planner.