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Policy Information

Public Transport

Published: 10 July 2019
From: Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport


The government has a strategic objective to provide a well functioning, accessible and integrated public transport system that:

  • enhances competitiveness
  • sustains economic progress
  • promotes balanced regional development
  • contributes to social cohesion

It is important to have a defined standard of public transport that's affordable for both customer and taxpayer.

The government also has an objective to ensure the timely and cost effective delivery of the Public Transport investment programme in line with the outcomes set out in the National Development Plan 2018-2027 as part of Project Ireland 2040.

Bus and Coach

The National Transport Authority is involved in the supply of various public bus services in Ireland such as Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and Local Link

Buses and coaches are classified as Large Public Service Vehicles which include 'vehicles with capacity to carry more than eight passengers for reward'. Policy oversight for the sector focuses on the:

  • licensing framework for Large Public Service Vehicles
  • licensing framework for Road Passenger Transport Operators Licences
  • policy framework for the operation of bus services for hire and reward including the licensing of scheduled services administered by the National Transport Authority

The National Transport Authority is the national enforcement body for bus and coach passenger rights in Ireland.


The Irish rail network currently extends to approximately 2,400 km of operational track, with over 4,400 bridges, 144 stations and 970 level crossings. It serves over 42 million passengers each year.

The network includes lines run by Iarnród Eireann and DART .

There is a responsibility to produce policy and legislation for the economic regulation of railways. The government ensures that the railway market in Ireland complies with EU requirements.

In order to ensure a robust regulatory regime for the railway market in Ireland, the EU requires compliance with rules concerning the establishment of a single railway area, and market access.

In particular, rules have been developed to open the markets for domestic and international rail freight and international rail passenger services. The Fourth Railway Package, which is currently under negotiation, contains further proposals for the opening of domestic markets.

Small Public Service Vehicles

Small Public Service Vehicles are vehicles with the capacity to carry up to eight passengers (excluding the driver) for reward, and include taxis, hackneys, wheelchair accessible vehicles, and limousines.

The department has responsibility for policy and statutory frameworks for the sector. The National Transport Authority (NTA) is responsible for the operational regulation of the sector.


The Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport’s (DTTAS) Sectoral Plan, under the Disability Act 2005, is called Transport Access for All (2012) This concept is based on the principle of Accessible Public Transport which does not distinguish between people with disabilities and other passengers.

At the whole of Government level,

  • the National Disability Inclusion Strategy (2017-2021) is aimed at improving the lives of people with disabilities. Implementation of the NDIS is being overseen by the NDIS Steering Group on which the DTTAS is represented
  • the Comprehensive Employment Strategy CES) for People with Disabilities sets out a 10 year approach to ensuring that people with disabilities, who are able to, and want to work are supported and enabled to do so. Both the DTTAS and the National Transport Authority (NTA) are represented on the CES Implementation Group

Please find more information on Accessibility in Transport

Rural Transport Programme

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport provides funding and the policy framework for the Rural Transport Programme (RTP) through the National Transport Authority (NTA). The RTP now operates under the name Local Link

The NTA has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public passenger transport services nationally. It also has responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including overall management of Local Link services.

Local Link aims ‘to provide a quality nationwide community based public transport system in rural Ireland which responds to local needs' . Its key priorities, under the Local Link Rural Transport Programme Strategic Plan 2018-2022 include addressing rural social exclusion, the integration of Local Link services with other public transport networks and the provision of better linkage between, and within, towns and villages.

There has been a substantial increase in funding for Local Link services since 2016, from €12.2 million in 2016 to €21 million in 2019. This has enabled the introduction of new regular commuter services, and improvements to demand responsive services, as well as the piloting of evening/night-time services.

During 2018, 2.2 million passenger journeys were recorded on over 148,115 services trips - across 1,072 services routes - a mixture of demand responsive transport and regular commuter type services.

Local Link services are operated and managed by 15 Local Link offices throughout the country. Each office manages the day to day requests and delivery of bus services in that area. These offices are open from 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday and operate all year round except for Public Holidays.

For more information, please visit .www.locallink.ie . The services are also are included in the National Journey Planner, which can be accessed at Transport for Ireland .

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