County Mayo will see the creation of a new Transport Co-Ordination Unit for the provision of rural transport services, according to local TD and Minister in the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, Michael Ring.
Rural Transport services are provided in Mayo by the Mayo North East Leader Partnership who as the only company in the county, are likely become Mayo’s transport co-ordination unit.
The new TCU will work with Mayo County Council to develop an annual plan for transport in rural Mayo which will then be serviced by the TCU.
They will become a ‘go to’ point for rural communities to address their transport needs and will be allocated new roles such as the maintaining databases of people in rural areas with specific transport needs and assisting co-ordinating voluntary efforts to address these. They will also have a role in assessing the needs of isolated areas when it comes to the granting of a new category of hackney licence – the ‘Local Area Hackney Licence’ by the NTA (National Transport Authority).
The new procurement arrangements of the TCUs will be specifically designed to encourage and reward investment by bus companies in fully accessible buses for people with disability.
Minister Ring welcomed the new proposals ensuring that local transport services will be protected while changes are being implemented.
“There were fears and suggestions that the Rural Transport Programme would be scrapped or that it might be taken away from Mayo. Well, I can categorically confirm that is simply not the case. We will have a better, more efficient rural transport programme in Mayo as a result.
“In fact, what Minister Alan Kelly is doing is creating a new structure to create more and better opportunities for people in rural Mayo to be able to avail of rural transport services.
“Access to transport is a major quality of life issue –, especially for elderly people. This will give a lifeline to many communities in tackling the very serious problem of rural isolation and represents a major overhaul of the Rural Transport Programme but one that will lead to major improvements,” concluded Minister Ring.