Background

The mission statement of the Rural Transport Programme (RTP), aka TFI Local Link, is ‘to provide a quality nationwide community based public transport system in rural Ireland which responds to local needs’.

The RTP was launched in 2007 to build on the success of its predecessor the Rural Transport Initiative (RTI).

The RTI was established as a pilot project in 2002 to address issues of unmet transport in rural areas. The RTI specifically focused on responding to rural isolation and enhancing the mobility, accessibility and community participation of local people, particularly those at risk of social exclusion.

The RTP was selected for review under the ‘Value for Money and Policy Review Initiative’, the Governments evaluation of public expenditure programmes, in line with a commitment given at the launch of the Rural Transport Programme in 2007.

The Review was carried out by the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport and the report was published early 2012.  Until April 2013, the RTP was managed by Pobal however this responsibility was then transferred to the National Transport Authority (NTA) and the NTA has been tasked with overseeing the implementation of the recommendations of this review.

The placing of the responsibility of the RTP and all integrated local and rural transport with the NTA, allows for better oversight of all state funded local and rural transport services. It enables the development of better links between local and rural transport services and national bus and rail services. It also enables the NTA to identify gaps in service provision and to fill those gaps in the most effective way.

Recommendations of the Value for Money and Policy Review Initiative detailed a plan for an organisational restructuring of the RTP. This plan concentrated on the establishment of 15 Local Link Areas to operate local and rural transport services in these areas. Each office manages the day to day requests and delivery of bus services in that area on behalf of the NTA.

Services

The Rural Transport Programme/TFI Local Link, operates two types of bus services:

  • Door-to-Door Routes
  • Regular Rural Services

Key Features:

  • Completing 2 million passenger journeys per annum with 1 million of those journeys provided for Free Travel Passengers.
  • 63 Scheduled services and 1,350 Demand Responsive services.
  • Travelling over 11.8 million kilometres annually.
  • Over 400 Private Operators provide the services involving up to 900 drivers.
  • As well as providing regular public transport services and Demand Responsive services, the Programme also funds the provision of ‘Once Off’ trips for individuals and community/voluntary groups to help address rural social exclusion.
  • 80% of service trips are defined as either fully or partially accessible.

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.

Rural Transport Programme/TFI Local Link: Growth in Passenger Journeys

Year Passenger Journeys (millions) Percentage Change on Previous Year
2015 1.76 No change
2016 1.79 +1.7
2017 1.89 +5.6
2018 2m +5.8
2019 2.5m +25