The Connecting Ireland Programme of new and enhanced bus routes, designed and implemented by the National Transport Authority (NTA), has reached a significant milestone.
- NTA launches 20 new and enhanced bus routes nationwide this month
- 3 million annual additional kilometres added to the public transport network
Over 60 new and enhanced bus services
This year over 60 new and enhanced Connecting Ireland bus services have been launched, strengthening existing services and connecting more towns and townlands across the state.
The programme has been rolling out bus services over the past two years. But the largest number of services to launch, making it the busiest ever Connecting Ireland period, occurred during the month of December this year. Twenty new and enhanced bus services were implemented, connecting towns and villages in Counties Galway, Mayo, Waterford, Kerry, Sligo and Cavan.
These latest services have added an estimated 2.3 million kilometres annually to the Transport for Ireland (TFI) public transport network, giving many people an opportunity to travel, and giving others the choice to travel more sustainably and leave the car at home.
Increase in services
The Galway to Clifden corridor, served by Route 923 operated by Citylink in partnership with Bus Éireann providing services on Route 419, will see a 33% increase in services for Clifden and a 31% increase in services for Oughterard with 12 services per day in each direction between Clifden and Galway and 17 services per day between Oughterard and Galway.
The number of services on Route 423 from Clifden to Westport have doubled from three daily returns to six daily returns Monday to Sunday, including public holidays.
Enhanced frequency of services
Route 424 operating between Leitir Mealláin and Galway sees a significant enhancement to the frequency of services, with 19 return trips between Galway and An Cheathrú Rua.
Services on Route 425A from Galway to Mountbellew also doubled to four daily return services Monday to Friday.
Routes 360 and 360A in Tramore, Co. Waterford are now more frequent, also providing a more useful local bus service within the town of Tramore, and a more reliable and punctual service between Waterford City and Tramore. The enhanced Bus Éireann Route 360 will provide buses between Tramore and Waterford Bus Station every 20 minutes during the day – an increase of 141% on current services.
Route 272 operating from Tralee to Ballybunion in Co. Kerry is enhanced to five trips each day Monday to Friday, while Route 279 from Tralee to Killarney is extended to Killarney from Kilorglin, with a significant increase in frequency to 11 return trips Monday to Saturday.
The C2 and C3 routes in Co. Cavan, operated by Local Link Cavan/Monaghan, are also extended and offer additional evening and weekend services.
Route 322 from Portumna, Co. Galway to Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, operated by Local Link Tipperary, creates a new route with four return trips Monday to Saturday and three return trips on Sunday.
Positive impact on rural communities
Commenting on the milestone, Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, said: “Rural transport in Ireland is taking off. We can see that Connecting Ireland is already having a really positive impact on rural communities across Ireland. New towns are being connected every month and many more people now have the choice to travel by bus to work, appointments, college and to attend social and leisure activities. What I see is young people particularly using the services which is fantastic. It’s also proving to be a lifeline for older people who can now get into their local towns easier and more frequently.
“Improving rural transport continues to be one of my key priorities and it’s great that we are delivering on this, week after week. And people are responding with their feet. As we introduce more new services more people than ever are choosing to use public transport with numbers increasing by over 112% in recent years.
“Our public transport network is now more convenient, it’s more accessible and more frequent than it’s ever been and people are telling us that this is what they want.”
Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority said: “The NTA’s aim under the Connecting Ireland Programme is to identify rural areas which require additional bus services.
“This is the second year of a five year programme and already it has been a huge success. Passenger numbers show us that people want to use public transport and they immediately use services when implemented in their towns and villages around Ireland.”
Connecting Ireland surpasses 2022 statistics
In 2022, Connecting Ireland delivered 38 new and enhanced bus services nationwide, bringing new bus services to 67 additional towns. This year the programme surpassed those statistics.
The new and enhanced bus services could not have been delivered without the fantastic support of our 15 Local Link offices around the country and Bus Éireann.
For more information about the five year Connecting Ireland programme see: www.nationaltransport.ie/connecting-ireland/