Govt seeks savings in rural transport systems

Tuesday 28 February 2012 22.43
The school transport system costs up to €170m
The school transport system costs up to €170m

The Government is planning a major overhaul of all rural transport systems to eliminate duplication and crossover of services.

Minister for Public and Commuter Transport Alan Kelly said it could mean more integration of the rural school transport system, and HSE non-acute taxi transport systems, which account for the bulk of the cost of the rural transport service.

Over €200m is spent each year on providing transport in rural parts of the country across a number of Government departments, providing school buses, rural transport links in isolated areas, and taxi services for patients who need to access HSE services.

The school transport system costs up to €170m and the HSE non-acute taxi services costs almost €30m.

Minister Kelly says there is room for more efficiencies and more co-ordination.

He said they could not continue to have a situation where school bus services are waiting around five-six hours a day, when they could be also providing other services.

A value for money report on the rural transport programme, which provides bus services in isolated areas since 2007, shows it cost €9m last year, but many have poor organisation structures and high administrative costs.

All rural transport services are to be integrated in six pilot areas initially to see how best cost efficiencies will be met, with the target of cutting €30m off the bill.

Mr Kelly said while transport access is vital, they could be delivered in a more co-ordinated manner.

This may mean streamlining some services, but adding to other rural transport services once those efficiencies have been found.