This month marked a special milestone in the local landscape as the Rural Transport Programme of Avondhu Blackwater Partnership celebrated its 10 year anniversary! A wonderful lunch in Springfort Hall with over 100 invited guests was followed by music and dancing as guests and passengers alike toasted a decade of service.
Minister of State Sean Sherlock TD, praised the achievements of the programme while pledging to highlight the local concerns regarding the future of the Programme at Government level. Recent communications from the Department Of Transport have suggested that the administration of the Rural Transport Programme may be moved away from Avondhu Blackwater Partnership and other local development companies and instead be administered by regional “hubs”. This removal of the local knowledge on the ground, which is one of the key strengths of the programme, is a concern as no other transport services perform the functions or possess the flexibility of the Rural Transport Programme. In response to a speech by Avondhu Blackwater Partnership Chairman Sean Hegarty, Minister Sherlock confirmed he would raise these concerns with Alan Kelly TD, the Minister of State at the Department Of Transport.
Commenting at the celebration, Rural Transport Coordinator Damien Tobin said, “we are delighted to have so many honoured guests here today. Passengers, community representatives, members of our Board and PET as well as local politicians. This shows the regard with which the Programme is held and is a strong endorsement of the work we have done, and hope to continue doing over the coming years. This method of local transport is cost efficient, flexible and highly effective and our intention is to fight to keep it local”.
First pioneered as an effort to connect the rurally isolated, the programme has grown in popularity and since the first trip 10 years ago it has made over 300,000 trips, allowing those without access to their own transport to visit the post ofice and the shops, to vist friends and socialise. The rural transport programme has become an essential element of rural life and its door to door service is a critical weapon in the fight against rural isolation.
For further information plase contact Damien Tobin at 025 33411.