This year Rural Bus celebrates its 10th anniversary of providing much needed transport services to the various communities in North Cork and County Limerick.

Rural Bus is a community based company which operates the Rural Transport Programme in County Limerick and North Cork and has been providing transport for people living in rural areas with limited access to transport services since 2002. Developed initially as a result of a study project to highlight lack of rural transport by participants on an outreached UCC Certificate in Community Development organised by Ballyhoura Development. at national level, the Rural Transport Programme arose from a commitment in the National Development Plan 2000-2006.

The service has come a long way since the first trip took place from Cappahane/Granagh to Charleville on February 8th 2002. Now, ten years on, Rural Bus has three bus services to Charleville, transporting on average 30 passengers each week

From small beginnings, the company now manages over 62 licensed routes in the coverage area as well as ad-hoc services including transport to training, day care centres, youth services, Limerick Youth, disability groups and many more.

Rural Bus interacts and links with local action groups such as Ballyhoura Development and West Limerick Resources and also with other sectoral interests such as Enable Ireland, Limerick County Council, HSE, Limerick Youth Service, Foroige, West Limerick Independent Living, RCCN, who are represented on the company board, and service user represen-tatives.

The service provides a social outlet and independence, and strengthens the sense of community among passengers and is a antidote to loneliness and rural isolation. It also provides a door to door service where possible, on each day that the static route is operating.

“We are very grateful for the bus service that Ballyhoura provide from the local school to our Childcare centre, five days per week. It is a very valuable service and provides security for parents as their child is accompanied to the childcare centre safely. Two of our staff members accompany the children on the bus. I wish to take this opportunity to thank Ballyhoura for this excellent service,” said Pauline O Callaghan of the Child and Family Education Centre.

Agreeing with Ms. O’Callaghan as to the importance of the service Eben Barnard of Foroige stated: “The service it provides to the community is understated but without it we and many other groups would simply be unable to function. Without Rural Bus there would be no summer programme in Foroige or many of the other activities we plan throughout the year. Rural Bus genuinely opens a world of exciting possibilities for us as an organisation and all the young people we work with.”

Meanwhile speaking on behalf of the business community, Edmund Dick of Dick’s Supervalu said ‘Rural Bus is a great social and economic asset to the area providing a vital link for our customers to travel to and from their homes and it is available to everybody in the community.

The Rural Bus service is available to all age groups, but you must be a member of the travel club. This costs €20 a year for adults and €5 a year for children. Passengers wishing to travel will then be charged an adult return fare of €5 (any route) or a child fare of €2.50 (any route). Persons with a free travel card will be able to travel free of charge.