On the 11/03/2015 the DART Partnership was notified by the Department of Regional Development (DRD) of the scale and scope of public sector funding cuts for 2015-2016 after the Minister Danny Kennedy had agreed the Departmental budget for the next financial year.
In real terms the grant available to the RCTP’s to deliver Dial-A-Lift services in rural areas of N.Ireland has been reduced from £3.6M (the amount of grant available in 2014/2015) to £2.4M for the next financial year 2015/2016.
DART is extremely disappointed at the substantial reduction in grant funding available to deliver essential Dial-A-Lift services moving forward from 01 April 2015.
The cuts announced by DRD will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable, rurally isolated and those with mobility difficulties and will greatly increase the potential for increased social exclusion throughout rural areas of N.Ireland.
In real terms across Northern Ireland the cuts announced amount to potentially 82,000 essential Dial-A-Lift journeys to often vulnerable and rurally isolated individuals being removed from the transport network in rural areas.
Faced with such reductions to RTF grant and in an effort to protect the viability of the DART Partnership as a viable service provider moving forward, the following measures are being implemented by DART from 01 April 2015.
• There will be a nominal increase on fares for users of the Dial-A-Lift service of between 50p and £1 per trip.
• There will be a managed reduction in the amount of service available across Craigavon & Banbridge in line with the budget available – this will mean that there may be less opportunity to travel, more restricted travel times and a focus on journey sharing with other scheme users.
• DART will collectively lobby for grant to be restored to maintain rural community transport services to our members in our area of benefit and throughout N.Ireland.
Throughout these challenging and difficult times all DART will endeavour (as much as possible) to protect essential rural transport services within the recent constraints imposed upon us by the Department through the recently announced public sector funding cuts.
Link to press release provided below.