Local link Evening Services a Driving Success

Fifth of Local Link evening buses carry fewer than 10 passengers a week

Seán McCárthaigh 

Sunday November 08 2020, 12.01am GMT, The Sunday Times

One in five of the Local Link evening bus services that operate in Ireland’s rural areas had fewer than 10 passengers a week on average last year, a review has found.

A further fifth of the services either did not commence as planned, or were cancelled due to lack of business. Route 115c between Ballivor and Navan, Co Meath, had the lowest usage of any service, with 215 passengers over all of last year.

The Local Link evening and night bus services were introduced in rural areas in 2018, after a law was passed providing for an automatic ban of at least three months for all motorists caught over the drink-driving limit.

The National Transport Authority (NTA), which oversees the operation of 17 Local Link groups, has expressed overall satisfaction with the performance of the bus service and welcomed the increase in customer numbers on most routes after a slow start. “For many services it has taken several months to gain traction locally and to be trusted as reliable public transport services,” the NTA said.

Of the 55 Local Link services, 23 are extensions of existing daytime routes, while the rest are demand-responsive, or door-to-door, evening services. NTA figures show a total of 33,922 passengers travelled on the 23 evening services on scheduled routes last year, while 34,213 passengers took one of the 32 door-to-door services. The cost of the 55 Local Link evening services came to almost €1.5m.

The busiest scheduled service was the 363 route between Tallow and Dungarvan, which attracted 5,126 passengers — a weekly average of 99 passengers. The next most popular was the Wexford-Rosslare Harbour service, which had 3,365, followed by the Newbridge-Athy route, with 2,991.

Other routes that recorded more than 2,000 evening trips were Granard-Longford, Kinlough-Ballyshannon, Ardmore-Dungarvan, and Glencolumbkille- Donegal town.

The busiest door-to-door route was the Mountrath-Castletown-Ballyfin service in Co Laois, which recorded 3,497 passengers in 2019 — a weekly average of 67 — followed by the Woodford-Portumna service in Co Galway, which had 3,417. The least busy route was an evening service in Clonmel, which attracted only 131 passengers for the whole of 2019 — a weekly average of fewer than three.

Passengers using Local Link services pay a nominal fee, while travel-pass holders and pensioners go free. Services usually run from 6pm to 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. The NTA said the figures indicated services were being used a lot by passengers living in smaller towns working or socialising in nearby larger towns.

It also noted some of the routes with the highest proportion of evening trips had departures at 11pm or later, while the routes with the lowest share of evening services tended to have last departures at 9pm or earlier, suggesting “some evening services do not operate late enough to effectively serve their purpose”.

The NTA can stop funding any service with a pattern of poor passenger numbers. Services are continuing during the pandemic, with capacity at 25% of normal levels.

25% Capacity Due to Level 5 Restrictions

Due to the Level 5 restriction that came into place from Midnight Wednesday 21st Oct, all service will be at 25% capacity.

We would ask that passengers, where possible, should try to make alternative arrangements as services will be restricted to essential travel only.

Avoid Peak Times

For all our intending Local link Waterford passengers, please be aware that the capacity on our services is still at 50% and we would ask that you please try to avoid travelling at peak times where possible.   Please also allow additional time for your journey at these times.

Face Masks are still mandatory on all our public transport services, for your safety and the safety of others please continue to wear a face mask on all journeys

Peak Times 21.9.20


Information on the wearing of face coverings

The Regulation signed by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly means that the requirement for public transport passengers to wear a face covering has full legal effect. As and from Monday 13th July authorised staff may refuse entry to a person who is not wearing a face covering. Authorised persons may also ask a passenger who refuses to wear a face covering to leave the vehicle.

NTA CEO Anne Graham said: “The clear and consistent message is that face coverings on public transport make journeys safer for passengers and for workers. This Regulation will increase people’s confidence in public transport and encourage more people back on to our buses, trams and trains.

These Regulations provide that members of the public who are 13 years old or older shall wear a face covering on public transport unless they have a reasonable excuse.

These are where:

(a) the person cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering – (i) because of any physical or mental illness, impairment, or disability, or (ii) without severe distress,

(b) the person needs to communicate with a person who has difficulties communicating (in relation to speech, language or otherwise)

(c) the person removes the face covering to provide emergency assistance or to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person

(d) the person removes the face covering to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury

(e) the person removes the face covering in order to, and only for the time required to, take medication.

The onus will be on a passenger to establish to the satisfaction of the relevant person that he or she has reasonable excuse.

Please note that face coverings are Mandatory on Local Link Services

Minister for Health signs regulations for the mandatory wearing of face coverings on public transport.

The regulations as and from Monday 13 July 2020, provide that Authorised staff including drivers and ticket inspectors may refuse entry to a person who is not wearing a face covering. Authorised persons may also ask a passenger who refuses to wear a face covering, to leave the vehicle.

Essential Travel only

We would like to ask that all intending passengers please avoid unnecessary Journeys.


If you do need to travel, then please take precautions to protect yourself and others whilst traveling.

See guidelines below.

Service Update 363 Tallow Dungarvan from Tuesday 2nd June 2020

Increased Daily Services

Tallow to Dungarvan Service Delayed Sat 25th April

Please note that due to a mechanical problem the 9.00 am service from Tallow  is currently running 20 minutes late.

Easter Monday Service Changes

Please note the following changes for Bank Holiday Monday 13th April

361 Ardmore – Dungarvan will operate the Sunday service timetable

363 Tallow – Dungarvan will operate the Sunday service timetable

364 Tallow – Fermoy, no services

367 Tramore – Dungarvan, no services

367a Dungarvan – Waterford City, no services

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