|The National Transport Authority manages the Rural Transport Programme now operating under the ‘Local Link’ brand, and funded by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. 17 Local Link Offices (Transport Co-ordination Units) around the country, manage the delivery of the Local Link services on behalf of the NTA including approximately 1,000 Public Bus Services in local and rural areas. During 2017 1.9 million passenger journeys were completed, these figures include 0.2 million passengers who required assistance. Over 400 private operators provide the services using almost 900 drivers. The funding allocation for Local Link services for 2018 is €14.9 million.
In June 2018 Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross officially launched the nationwide new evening Local Link services. The new services are aimed at addressing unmet transport needs and social isolation in rural areas, and will run until December 2018 on a pilot basis. A total of 65 additional services were approved for funding, throughout the country, covering all 17 Local Link areas. The new services in Kerry cover two loops from the outskirts of Listowel Town into the town centre, and will operate on Friday nights, offering door to door pick-ups for customers who wish to access services and amenities in the town. Local Link Kerry already co-ordinates 160 routes in rural Kerry, the weekend service is an extension of the existing network used by 150,000 passengers a year in the county.
In July 2018 Donegal Local Link and Fáilte Ireland announced a collaborative partnership aimed at improving public transport links between key attractions, while also promoting Local Link services on a county level. Speaking at the launch, Minister of State Brendan Griffin said: “In addition to providing a local transport service, the new routes resulting from this partnership will greatly enhance visitors’ ability to access a range of tourism attractions along the Wild Atlantic Way, thus enhancing the tourist experience and further growing the brand”