Hopping on the Rural Transport Scheme Bus
Posted by Alan Kelly on November 27, 2009 at 09:40 PM
On Thursday last, I took the Rural Transport Scheme’s bus from Lorrha to Roscrea along with regular users of the scheme. Locals have recently become fearful of cuts to this scheme, which would leave them isolated and without access to even the most basic of services. The rural transport scheme was set up in response to inadequate transport in rural areas and has become a lifeline to many without access to a car.
This scheme has been active in North Tipperary since 2003 with the help of EU funding. I am a strong supporter of this scheme which not only provides transport, but a social outlet for many people, especially elderly people living in rural areas. Without this service many wouldn’t be able to attend doctor’s appointments, do grocery shopping or even collect their pensions on a weekly basis. Cuts to this integral part of the rural community are not an option.
On the trip last Thursday, users of the scheme voiced their concerns to me. One woman from Templederry explained that Nenagh is the nearest town to her, ten miles away. She is collected every Tuesday to do her shopping and also on Wednesday when she attends the Day Care Centre. Without this facility, she would be unable to go to town as she is no longer able to drive. Another elderly man living in Rearcross said that the bus was not only about getting them from A to B, it had become an opportunity to make friends and interact with people. Without the bus he could go for weeks without seeing another person. He explained to me that the bus is a vital part of his life.
One woman of Foilnamon, Kilcommon described the impact the loss of this facility would have on her life. She said that if the service was to be withdrawn she would be forced to move into town. The bus enables her to maintain the only way of life she has ever known. Having lived on her property for generations, the thought horrified her. Another woman explained how the bus gave her a sense of independence. She relies of on the scheme to transport her to her part-time job. As a mother of four she cannot afford to lose this job. It is clear to me that this service provides a great reassurance to those who use it. Loosing this service would be devastating.
This programme is managed locally by North Tipperary LEADER Partnership. Services are provided in the Borrisokane, Thurles, Boherlan and Kilcommon-Upperchurch areas. The needs and welfare of the passengers are central to the service, and it often includes helping older people with their shopping, assisting mobility impaired passengers to access and exit the bus or even calling on the homes of people who may have missed their routine trips due to illness.
I intend to ensure that funding from the EU is maintained. An Bord Snip Nua made the wrong recommendation in identifying this scheme as expendable. I hope to get an opportunity to “get the bus” again soon to show my support for this important service to rural Ireland.