THE importance of Limerick’s Rural Bus was celebrated by its users this week on the occasion of its 10th birthday.
Having started out on a pilot basis, Rural Bus has become an integral part of the day-to-day lives of hundreds of people in Limerick and North Cork who avail of the service which has 62 regular routes.
The community-based company which operates the Rural Transport Programme and has a head office in Newcastle West caters for people living in rural areas who have limited access to transport services.
Rural Bus provides two bus services from Bruff to Drombanna Day Care and Garryspillane to Drombanna weekly, transporting on average 20 to 30 passengers each week.
“Today is a huge celebration when we think of the joy we have given people over the 10 years,” said Marie O’ Connor, area co-ordinator for South Limerick and North Cork.
“Rural bus is for everybody – all age groups. With so many people out of work we would encourage anybody who doesn’t have transport access, to contact our office,” she added.
After the journey to the community centre, the visitors partake in various activities and tuck into a range of refreshments including tea and biscuits.
A wholesome dinner is also provided by the day care centre.
“We get fed here and chat to all the people. We get a grand dinner – it’s different every day,” smiled 98-year-old Bridget who is the oldest user of the service followed closely by Tommy Cooke - the oldest living All-Ireland hurling medal holder.
“I’m coming here seven or eight years. We get wonderful food. We talk about everything, even women,” joked the 97-year-old Knockainey man as he enjoyed a cuppa and a chat with Dan Godfrey of Ballinagarde and Morgan Hughes from Knockainey.
Rural Bus also provides a wide variety of other transport services including transport for youth services and disability groups.
Hospital Family Resource Centre uses Rural Bus for its older people services and for the Step Forward Disability Group.
“A good few of the Step Forward Group are visually impaired or have physical disabilities and they have a pick-up from home service which obviously suits them – the group wouldn’t really function if it didn’t have the support of Rural Bus,” explained Martha Potter, the community development worker with Hospital Family Resource Centre.
“There is also the social and peer support they get. It has a huge benefit in terms of self-esteem, it gives them independence that they wouldn’t normally have. We would be lost without it,” she added.
For further details contact Marie O’ Connor on 087-6593033 or visit the web site www.ruralbus.com.