The rural transport initiative, RTI, is being managed by Area Development Management, ADM, on behalf of the Department of Transport and funding is provided for this purpose through the national development plan. A total of 34 community groups have been selected under the initiative to receive funding to provide innovative community based transport services, on a pilot basis, in rural areas. The pilot project received just under €3 million in 2002, €3 million in 2003 and is expected to receive another €3 million in 2004.
As free travel pass holders will benefit from the rural transport initiative, I contributed €400,000 towards the cost of the initiative in 2003, thereby ensuring that free travel pass holders have access to these community based transport services. I propose to contribute up to €500,000 in 2004 towards the RTI. As with the funding from the Department of Transport, my contribution is managed and allocated to the 34 pilots by ADM. Payment to the groups is based on the number of passholders carried free of charge. The Department of Transport is now carrying out an independent review of the pilots, after which a decision will be made about rural transport nationally.