Throughout late 2020 and 2021, the National Transport Authority (NTA) held a series of workshops with Local Authorities and National Agencies. These workshops provided the opportunity to better understand gaps in the public transport service network at a local level across areas and times of the day and week. These insights helped to shape our proposals. This early engagement has ensured the NTA has considered future plans for development and potential changes in travel demand stimulated by planning and development at local and regional level. Collaborating with our partners has been key to the acceptance of Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan (the Plan) recommendations, and the consultation will continue throughout the programme.
During 2021 the NTA developed a draft set of proposals for public consultation. The public consultation ran for a period of six weeks, from Friday 29th October 2021 until Friday 10th December 2021. A total of 3,491 submissions were received via both an online feedback form and by email.
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated Government restrictions on travel were in effect during this period, so the public consultation was undertaken via an online format to allow stakeholders and the general public to view maps and project information and to submit their feedback in a safe and accessible way. The Post-Consultation Report sets out how public consultation process for the Plan was managed, how many people interacted with the NTA and summarises the issues and concerns raised throughout the process. A summary infographic is also available, to view the high-level findings of the consultation.
In 2022 the NTA analysed feedback received from the public consultation and, where appropriate, integrated amendments / alternative suggestions into the future plans for the Plan.
Throughout 2022, Phase 1 of the Plan has delivered a number of new and enhanced bus services. The revisions were implemented on routes and services serving areas in counties Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Clare, Sligo, Kildare, Offaly, Mayo and Wexford.
Throughout the remainder of 2022, the NTA aims to continue to implement further services across the State, and start the procurement for proposals due to enter service in 2023. This rate of improvement of bus services has and will continue to be achieved in a sector facing severe challenges due to increases in the cost of fuel, lack of both vehicle and trained drivers, both of which have been brought about by the recent pandemic and geopolitical events across the world.
The rollout of new and improved services is continuing on a phased basis from 2023 to 2026. Please check back here and on social media to keep up to date with the latest progress on the Plan.