I welcome the announcement from the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD who recently announced an additional allocation of €850,000 from savings in his Department to the Rural Transport Programme in 2016. This brings the total allocation for 2016 to over €14.5m, which is an increase of 20% on 2015.
The Minister also secured a €2.19m increase in funding for the Programme in 2017, which is part of the overall increase of €31m for public transport services in Budget 2017. The allocation for rural transport in 2017 represents an almost 20% increase on the original funding allocation for this year. These measures were in the programme for Government negotiations that I was involved in, and I am pleased today that this extra money has come for rural transport as it was one of my priority areas.
With the additional funding this year, 13 additional services have already been provided in various counties including an extra 160,000 Euro for Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon, ensuring better connections to and between towns and destinations such as shops, hospitals and community facilities. The extra funding will allow for further improvement and expansion of services in addition to ensuring the optimal level of integration with other public transport services.
I am delighted that the additional funding and initiatives being progressed will build on the good work that has been done over 10 years by those involved at local level in the provision of rural transport services to ensure maximum integration with other state funded services and by making the programme a sustainable part of the public transport system.