Strokestown area Independent Councillor Tom Crosby welcomes the commitment to retain and extend the Rural Transport scheme in the new programme for Government. Cllr Crosby is delighted his proposals to use the existing School Bus Fleet in order to extend services to the Rural Transport scheme are being seriously considered as part of the overall Rural Transport Scheme.
Cllr Crosby has over the years continued to raise the value of using the existing School Bus Fleet having placed the matter on the agenda of Roscommon County Council Meetings etc in February 2007 Cllr Crosby raised the matter at a Public Meeting in Ballaghadreen attended by the Minister for Community Rural and Gaelteacht Affairs Eamon O’Cuiv. The Independent Councillor highlighted the serious lack of Public Transport in Rural Ireland. Cllr Crosby made a proposal to the Minister at that meeting that his department should examine the many advantages in using the School Bus fleet which is only in use for a couple of hours in the morning and afternoon five days a week and the School Buses are then lying idle during the day in the evenings after 6.30 and all weekends, all School Holidays periods etc. Cllr Crosby stated that there are hundreds of School Buses throughout Rural Ireland that could be put to use and be of major benefit in tying in with the existing limited Rural Transport Scheme which can only provide service on Friday’s. The School Buses could be used seven days a week with very little cost to the Tax Payer as the Training agency FAS could provide the necessary training for drivers and in turn give employment to people who are presently unemployed which would have major saving on Social Welfare Benefit payout.
The Councillor went on to state the free travel pass for the elderly the disabled and people on disability benefits etc was absolutely useless in Rural Ireland as there was virtually no public transport for the very basic needs such as attending hospitals and clinics, social events, visiting friends or going to the villages or towns for their basic needs etc. Cllr Crosby stated that recipients of the travel pass living in the Urban areas such as Dublin have a choice of Public Transport systems such as Bus services passing their door every few minutes, the Dart service, the new Luas service, Trains etc while their counterparts living in rural Ireland have no such choices, if they miss the one bus on a Friday morning they will have to wait until the following Friday for the next service. The Councillor went on to state that the School Bus fleet could also be used in the evenings and weekends for people to go socialising visiting and so on, as the new drink driving laws prohibits people using their own transport going out for a social drink which in turn is having a devastating effect on thousands of small business and pubs, the culture and socialising in rural Ireland is dying fast he said.
Minister O’Cuiv in his response in February 07 stated that his department was examining ways of providing a basic public transport system for people living in rural Ireland. The Minister went on to state that he would have the proposal made by Cllr Crosby of using the School Bus fleet examined by his Department.
The announcement in the revised Programme for Government over the weekend is now committed to retaining and extending the Rural Transport Scheme and is giving serious consideration to Cllr Crosby’s proposals of utilising the School Buses. Cllr Crosby states that this will have major benefits to Rural Ireland both economically and socially.