Ministers announce introduction of new transport scheme for rural dwellers
10 November 2009
Transport Minister, Conor Murphy, and Rural Development Minister, Michelle Gildernew, today announced the introduction of two new rural transport schemes. These new schemes have been developed to help meet the transport needs of rural dwellers.
The new Dial-a-Lift services will be available to members of Rural Community Transport Partnerships. These services are similar to the Door-to-Door services that are available in urban areas and are designed to allow individuals who have limited access to transport to get to local services and facilities.
The second scheme announced today is the Assisted Rural Transport Scheme (ARTS). This scheme is being supported by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and will allow eligible members of Rural Community Transport Partnerships to obtain concessionary travel when using community transport. This initiative which is being launched as a pilot will help ease the financial burden on rural dwellers.
Minister Murphy said: "In December 2007, I set out the way forward for the Rural Transport Fund and the Rural Community Transport Partnerships.
I was determined that our focus should be on ensuring that transport is available to those rural dwellers who do not have access to mainstream public transport .
"This new Dial-a-Lift scheme provides transport to those who are socially isolated and cannot access the local services and facilities we all take for granted. I welcome the commitment from all the 16 Rural Community Transport Partnerships across the North in working together to introduce these enhanced services and I also welcome DARD's support in providing funding for the Assisted Rural Transport scheme.
"I think that this is an excellent example of how Ministers, Departments and the Community Sector can work together to bring real benefits to the lives of local people."
Minister Michelle Gildernew added: "As part of my work on developing a Rural White Paper for the north, rural stakeholders have consistently identified transport as one of their biggest stumbling blocks.Having spoken to young people withdisabilities and hearing at first hand how lack of transport provision inhibits their ability to work or socialise; the lack of suitable, reliable rural transport provision has for some time been a concern for me as it compounds rural poverty and social exclusion.
"I am very pleased that through workingcloselywith DRD we are able to announce these Rural Transport schemes today. I believe they will make a real difference to the lives of rural dwellers - particularly for those mainly elderly and disabled people who are entitled to a SmartPass'.
The Ministers fully recognise the importance of transport for people in rural areas and their Departments have worked closely together to introduce the Dial-a-Lift scheme and Assisted Rural Transport Scheme pilot. Both these initiative will improve access to essential local services for users and will be available from early December 2009.