Under a pilot scheme beginning in November the NTA is offering grant-funding of €6,000 to individual drivers, over 12 months, to operate a localised hackney service in each of the listed areas.
The 15 designated areas are:
The areas included in the pilot programme were selected by the NTA, in conjunction with Local Link offices, as ones where a full-time taxi or hackney service may not be currently sustainable.
The NTA is accepting applications for funding, it states.
Plans for this pilot programme were first announced last May by the Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport Shane Ross and the Minister of State with responsibility for Sport and Tourism Brendan Griffin along with the NTA.
The announcement was made in response to the low take-up under the Local Area Hackney Scheme which was first introduced in December 2013.
The pilot programme announced seeks to simplify the application process and make the provision of a service in rural areas sustainable.
The outcome of this pilot programme will help inform NTA’s local transport plans over the next five years.
“If you’re interested in providing this vital local service to your community and if you have a vehicle that meets the basic requirements, we’d like to hear from you,” said an NTA spokesperson, “You don’t even have to be a current holder of a Small Public Service Vehicle driver licence to apply.”
This could open it up for publicans who had previously not considered the plan.
“The NTA’s proposals on funding rural hackney services are welcome although somewhat late and limited,” the VFI’s Chief Executive Padraig Cribben told Drinks Industry Ireland, “The closing date for applications was end of September and by the time all the red tape is covered it’s unlikely that any of them will be up-and-running before Christmas.
“We already have two similar schemes running now for over three months,” he continued, “These will run for a 12-month period to assess what needs to be put in place for such a scheme to work on a broader geographic basis.
“So far they’re proving very successful.”
According to a report in the Irish Examiner recently, “In tandem with this project, the NTA is working with the Local Links to identify communities where there is an interest in establishing separate community car schemes, that would get public funding”.
Transport Minister Brendan Griffin is involved in a community car scheme in his own locality in County Kerry and stated, “It’s about tackling social isolation, but it’s also providing an important economic boost to businesses in the area such as the bars and restaurants that benefit from their customers being able to come and go using this scheme”.
Kerry’s rural lift scheme was set up eight months ago with 20 volunteer drivers and has already exceeded expectations in carrying 3,000 people so far, reports the Examiner.
“Each volunteer gives up one night in the month — myself included, I am one of the 20 — we all enjoy doing our night and we also benefit from the service on the nights that we aren’t working if we want to avail of it, the same as everyone else in the community,” he said.
Further information and application forms are available at www.DLAH.ie or by calling the SPSV Information Line on 0761 064 000 or going to your nearest Local Link office.