Good Practice Database

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ISEMOA Good Practice Fact Sheet

Title in original language SECAD Rural Transport Services (demand responsive transport and feeder to mainline services)
Title in English SECAD Rural Transport Services (demand responsive transport and feeder to mainline services)
Location South and East Cork, Ireland
Year 07/2008
Initiator South and East Cork Area Development (SECAD)
Developed by
(one pick only)
  • Organization
Implementation Area
  • Region
  • Rural
Supported accessibility level
  • Meso accessibility
Elements of the working process - Preconditions
  • User needs
Elements of the working process - Strategy
  • Programme / Plan
  • Partnerships
  • People
  • Budget
Elements of the working process - Implementation
  • Supportive measures
  • Accessibility measures and accessibility planning
Elements of the working process - Monitoring and Evaluation
  • User / society results
  • Stakeholder feedback
  • Management review
Type of PRM Affected
  • Motor impaired
Application Field / Target area - Public Transport - other
  • Name: Rural Transport Programme
  • Service
Why is it a good practice example? One of the key benefits of the SECAD RTP services is that of door-to door flexible transport. This service goes a lot further however than simple transportation. It provides a gateway to accessing essential services and acts as a platform for social interaction, providing options to people and combating isolation, particularly prevalent in the more rural and remote coastal parts of South & East Cork.

The SECAD RTP services are about connecting people to people, places, services, and transport, transport to transport, money to businesses, and public finances to local investment.
Background and Objectives / Aims The SECAD Rural Transport Programme began in July 2008 following approval by the Pobal (i.e. the intermediary body acting for the ministry responsible for local and community affairs) of the SECAD Strategic Plan for development of the Rural Transport Programme in the South & East Cork area. The primary focus of the SECAD Rural Transport Programme is to develop and coordinate an affordable and accessible community based transport system while meeting the needs of people living in South and East Cork and providing rural based public transport services.

The SECAD Rural Transport Programme is based on the following key objectives
- To provide services that meet previously unmet transport needs
- To connect people living in rural areas to their local service centre (village or town)
- To support and enable people living in rural communities to access services
- To combat social exclusion and improve individuals’ well-being and quality of life
- To achieve integration where possible with other transport and social services
- To sustain and regenerate rural communities
- To promote public transport as an alternative option for people who previously would not or could not use public transport.

Accessibility and mobility are crucial factors in rural life. The common denominator is the availability of transport. Transport in this context goes a lot further than getting somebody from one point to another. It enables a series of other connections and provides people with access to essential public services (e.g. health, education), employment opportunities, creates greater social interaction, sustains communities and improves peoples‘ quality of life.
Implementation (incl. obstacles, public participation) In the research phase preceding the Rural Transport Programme rollout in the area, it was found by SECAD that the level of social interaction across South and East Cork, particularly amongst the least advantaged inhabitants, was severely constrained by the lack of accessible public transport. Those who are isolated in rural locations and without access to their own vehicle have little scope for social interaction. It has been found that rural dwellers are penalised for choosing to live outside of urban conurbations since they are required to have their own vehicle if they wish to engage in the full range of social and economic experiences. But the SECAD area has a particularly large population aged over 65, and a relatively large population aged less than 15 years who have less access to their own cars.

A community questionnaire was designed in 2007 to provide a profile of those who would be most likely to require services under the then proposed SECAD Rural Transport Programme. The community questionnaire was designed to capture the following specific profile:
- The gender, age, and geographical location of respondents;
- The distance to the nearest town or village (if appropriate);
- The ambulatory situation of the respondent;
- Access to private transport;
- The means of transport regularly used by the respondent, and the average frequency of its use;
- limiting travel factors;
- View of appropriateness of current public transport provision;
- Ownership and frequency of use of free travel pass;
- Potential use for public transport, and preferred mode(s); and
- Possibility of telephone communication with the respondent.

It was evident from the results of this survey that inadequate transport was a major contributing factor to marginalisation, social exclusion, isolation and deprivation. The information obtained from the community survey strongly suggested that there was a need to provide more appropriate public transport services for the benefit of holders of free travel passes, given the relative under-utilisation of this facility. It followed that the population profile that would benefit most from improved provision would be older people, people on low incomes, and people with physical and/or mental impairments.

From the responses obtained by the community survey, and other complimentary surveys undertaken across South and East Cork by other organisations, it was also concluded that there was an unfulfilled need for the provision of public transport for young people, particularly those who do not have access to the family car, or other forms of transport. In particular, the more structured provision of services to allow ready access to training initiatives, such as Youthreach, would be merited.

As a general principle, the community survey served to validate the well-known view that those living in more deeply rural or coastal locations generally face more challenges when accessing services, particularly where the individual does not have the ready availability of a private car. Thus, all of the needs identified above are compounded by the spatial reality of peripheral rural or coastal locations, suggesting the need for a particular focus.

Services specifically designed to respond to the needs of the elderly, particularly where they live in isolation, or rural and coastal locations, were given initial priority. Similarly, the needs of single parents, and of those trying to access the world of work from isolated, or rural and coastal communities were given priority. Two phases were required to render the SECAD Rural Transport System fully operational.

Phase One: The Set-Up SECAD Rural Transport Programme Management Committee was formed and a booking service/call centre was established within SECAD which provides the following support:
- Planning the development of the network of transport services;
- Co-ordinating all rural transport services;
- Identification of new transport solutions to address the needs of the local population;
- Preparing tender documents and negotiating contracts for transport service provision;
- Monitoring route demand;
- Controlling the quality of service provision;
- Evaluation of performance and impact of all services provided;
- Advising and co-operating with all agencies (Bus Éireann, Irish Rail, Health Service Executive, etc.) involved in transport provision;
- Working with community groups regarding their transport needs; and
- Organisation and co-ordination of driver training.

Phase Two, the Implementation Phase: This phase saw the initiative, and its related components, become operational. SECAD rural transport services operated 15 scheduled services in 2010 that are semi flexible and door to door. These have a fix of frequency based on passenger need; once weekly, once fortnightly and once monthly.

As one of the newer RTP groups in the country, SECAD has found a challenge in balancing the need for results, to get services operating, to build services with the time necessary to create an awareness of what the RTP is about as it was new to the area to the communities and to individuals living in the areas, building relationships to support the development of services and the developmental work required to start and ultimately to develop and maintain quality services.
  • In local currency:
  • In Euro [EUR]: 170.000
Conclusions (incl. output, analysis of benefits) The RTP has provided access to services for those living in remote rural and coastal areas of South and East Cork, as well as for those who are isolated socially and physically. It has connected people living in rural areas to their neighbours, local villages, towns and centres of activities, also providing a positive spin-off to the local economy. The programme has provided a platform for social interaction among people who would otherwise not have any social outlet, thereby combating isolation and enhancing wellbeing. It has encouraged and supported people to live independently, particularly older people who previously may have been dependant on family, neighbours or friends for mobility and access to services including health, retail, banking, and pension collection. SECAD’s RTP has harnessed community spirit and encouraged wider community involvement in the development of transport services that meet the needs of their area.

The most useful measure of the programme at micro level has been acquired by feedback provided by the passengers, family members, volunteers, community activists and personnel from other agencies. The level of demand for piloting new services based on unmet transport need in specific areas combined with the positive experience of passengers and stakeholders involved in existing service routes. SECAD surveyed each service in 2009 in relation to the impact of the services. This formed part of the SECAD RTP review and the awareness campaign. Below are some of the extracts from letters written and feedback from passengers in their own words:
“I am 83 years of age and I live alone. I am 5 miles from Ballinhassig, Innishannon and Kinsale. No bus or shop without going to these places so you will understand why the rural transport means so much to me. IT IS A LIFELINE.”
“The bus service has changed my life. I am a 66year old pensioner living in East Cork. I do not drive. The bus service enables me to get my shopping independently; it is a social outlet for me. Also I have made friends from our weekly trip”
“I find the bus service on Friday morning to Carrigaline invaluable. Without this service I would not be able to collect my pension and medication which I need following my bypass”
“I am very grateful and happy with the bus service, it helps me get my shopping, go to the doctors, hairdressers, get my pension. I was dependant on my family and they all have jobs. Now I can go and do all these things without hassle, meet my friends for a cup of tea. So thank you”

Nevertheless there are still possibilities to improve the service. As experience shows, a move from annualised to multi-annual budgeting to allow for more strategic planning and delivery of services would be such an improvement. It would allow for a more stable development of new routes, supported by a solid consultation process with communities, target groups and agencies in the knowledge that the funding is ring-fenced and secure going forward. A longer term planning and budgetary framework would also facilitate more strategic route planning, as well as more integrated transport planning among the relevant transport providers and agencies with a transport interest. A more integrated approach to local transport solutions would in turn provide massive opportunity for higher a return on investment and greater value for money, as well as moving closer to meeting the level of unmet transport need in the rural context. For this to happen, there needs to be a concerted effort for coordination at cross departmental, state agency and local level, underpinned by a political will for integrated transport solutions to become a reality.

SECAD RTP impacts 2010: 11,069 Passenger Journeys and 996 journeys delivered in 2010. Furthermore, 36 individual groups were supported via “Building Healthy Communities - CONNECT Initiative”. The “Building Healthy Communities - CONNECT Initiative” was set up under SECAD’s Rural Transport Programme to provide support to active age and youth groups (for tailored trips) to bring them to health and well-being activities, promoting a variety of social health determinants. Additional to this SECAD utilises where possible the transport services for a cross section of Social Inclusion Actions (linked to the SECAD Local Community Development Programme) including:
- A Film Festival for disadvantaged youth groups
- Active Age Events and
- Transport to enhance accessibility of disadvantaged target groups to a variety of social supports including training, education and employment services.
Source / Link http://www.secad.ie/index.php/funding/rural_transport1/
Information - documents Sustainable Rural Transport - Rural Transport Programme Strategy 2011-2016 (4.640 KB)
RTP Performance and Impact Report 2009 (1.312 KB)
RTP current brochure of services 2011 (130 KB)
RTP bus in Robert's Cove (2.052 KB)

Picture of Rural Transport Programme bus in the SECAD countryside (3.430 KB)