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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, 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 and Dublin Bus.

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 (link is external) 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

Between these 2 Strategies, there are 19 actions for which the DTTAS, its Agencies, other State Agencies and public transport operators have lead responsibility for implementing. These Actions are primarily public transport related.

Please find more information on Accessibility in Transport

Rural Transport Programme

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport provides funding and 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 was given national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including managing the RTP - and its restructuring - with effect from 1st April 2012. This new role for the NTA, coupled with its existing national remit for securing the provision of public passenger transport services, enables the development of better links between local/rural transport, and scheduled bus/rail services.

The new RTP delivery model offers a structure to facilitate the integration of local and rural transport services. The Transport Co-ordination Units (TCUs) will have a key role in embedding integration within transport services planning. They will also have a role in two other rural transport initiatives: the Community Car Scheme and the proposed local area hackney licence.

For the first time local authorities will have a role in transport planning as they will prepare annual transport plans for their areas, in consultation with the respective TCU.

The services offered by the RTP are included in the National Journey Planner which can be accessed at Transport for Ireland

More information about the structure and future plans for the RTP is available on the NTA website

For more information, please visit www.locallink.ie

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