Pictured at the service launch were: Declan Rice, CEO Kilkenny LEADER Partnership; William Colfer, Kent Stainless and Jackie Mealy Ring a Link PICTURE: DYLAN VAUGHAN
Visitors to Kilkenny and those living in the city and county will now be able to travel far and wide and venture into rural parts of the region with the launch of a pilot, integrated transport service that is a first for Ireland.
The new public transport initiative sees the Ring a Link local, one of the 15 community-led and state funded Local Link flexible bus services, team up with JJ Kavanagh and Sons, one of the largest private bus service operators in Ireland. The integrated service allows passengers not just travel into the city and major hubs in the county but also link in with a community-based, rural service that ventures right into the rural countryside.
The new Kilkenny Integrated Transport Evolution (KITE) service is supported by Kilkenny LEADER Partnership, Tomar Trust and Kilkenny County Council. The landmark service also includes ‘Smart Stop’ bus shelters in five rural areas with digital display units displaying arrival times and communications buttons, similar to those found at Luas stops, to allow customers to plan their integrated journeys using both Ring a Link and JJ Kavanagh services.
The new, integrated transport service is designed to maximise ease and efficiency for the user in terms of time, cost, comfort, safety, accessibility and convenience, according to Laura Kavanagh of JJ Kavanagh & Sons.
Addressing the second Integrated Rural Urban Transport Evolution (iROUTE 2) conference where the new service was announced, she said: “This is a very important project for all of the partners involved. Over 50% of people living in Kilkenny live in the country and a rural transport service that links up is critical if they are to get where they want to get every day.”
Declan Rice, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership CEO, said: “It is intended that KITE will extend the reach off the main roads and towns and into the smaller villages and hinterlands to offer Kilkenny residents far more integrated transport and far more mobility options. Tourists and other visitors will have much improved access to the often isolated attractions of rural Kilkenny.
“People who visit Ireland don’t just want to visit cities. They want to experience rural Ireland and all it has to offer. This integrated service is a first in Ireland and it is only fitting that a great tourist mecca and a county that values its rural hinterland should make this investment. But the great thing is it can be replicated in any part of the country where a conventional bus operator and a Local Link agree to partner,” Mr Rice said.
Ring-A-Link’s Jackie Meally said: “The pilot service also provides additional passenger carrying opportunities for both licensed fixed corridor bus operators JJ Kavanagh and Sons and our Ring a Link service which is run on a voluntary, charitable basis.”
Smart Stop locations will be phased in over the coming weeks and include Ormonde Road in Kilkenny City as well as Callan, Killamery and Castlecomer as well as Ballyragget and the Applegreen, Paulstown.
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