PROGRAMME GUIDELINES


The Rural Transport Initiative (RTI) arose from a commitment
in the National Development Plan 2000-2006 to provide funding for the
development of pilot public transport initiatives in rural areas. The aim of this
funding was ‘to encourage innovative community based initiatives to provide
public transport services in rural areas with a view to addressing social
exclusion in rural Ireland caused by lack of access to transport’. The RTI
operated as a very successful pilot action research initiative between 2002-

A new Rural Transport Programme (RTP) was launched in February 2007.
The RTP is building on the success of the Rural Transport Initiative and puts
the former pilot scheme on a permanent mainstreamed basis, with
significantly increased funding. It continues the recognition that local
communities are best placed to identify their rural transport needs and to
address them. Consequently, approved rural community transport groups will
continue to have primary responsibility for initiating, developing, organising
and delivering transport services funded under the RTP.

This document sets out the broad thrust of what the RTP is designed to
achieve and contains general guidelines as to how the Programme will
operate. The document includes the following sections:

      Achieving national coverage
      The role of Pobal
      Mission statement for the new programme
      Key principles
      Aims
      Objectives
      Eligible organisations
      The application process
      The appraisal process
      General criteria for appraisal
      Timeframe
      Guidelines for project plans
      Terms and conditions of funding
      Operational requirements
      Eligible costs
      Reporting requirements


      Financial reporting

Achieving nationwide coverage

In accordance with the recommendations of the 2006 Fitzpatrick Associates
Report ‘Progressing Rural Public Transport in Ireland’, and in order to achieve
nationwide coverage for the RTP, a facilitation exercise has been initiated in
2007. The aim of this work is to carry out a consultation process and make
recommendations with respect to the optimum formal structural arrangements
to manage the RTP at local level into the future and to achieve coverage on a
nationwide basis.

It is intended that nationwide coverage will be achieved on a phased basis,
building on the experience and work carried out in the pilot Rural Transport
Initiative. In line with current Government Policy, the new programme will seek
to build on existing local development structures and experience where
possible and appropriate. However, it is recognised that there may be some
areas where transport services cannot be provided by the existing RTP
funded community transport groups. Such areas will be addressed on a case
by case basis. An open call for new applications is not envisaged.

The role of Pobal

Pobal, formerly know as Area Development Management Ltd., developed and
managed the pilot Rural Transport Initiative on behalf of the Department of

Pobal has been asked to manage the new Rural Transport Programme on
behalf of the Department of Transport. As an intermediary body, Pobal will
have responsibility for establishing systems and the tasks associated with:
    Overall programme development
    Policy learning and development
    Support for RTP funded rural community transport groups (for strategic
       planning, financial planning, transport planning, business process and
       general management purposes)
    Operational delivery
    Monitoring, research and evaluation
    Financial management and auditing
    Information exchange and the development of good practice
    Raising the profile of the programme

Mission Statement for the New Programme

To provide a quality nationwide community based public transport
system in rural Ireland which responds to local needs.

Key Principles


The following key principles are essential values that underpin the work of the

   Equality of access for rural communities in terms of availability,
       accessibility (having particular regard to ‘Transport Access for All’, the
       Department of Transport’s Sectoral Plan under the Disability Act 2005)
       and affordability.

Social Inclusion
    Continued focus on combating social exclusion and meeting the needs
       of communities and individuals that do not have access to public or
       private transport

Community based approaches
   Ongoing community involvement, local representation and ownership
   Operation of community development principles
   High level of voluntary input including Board membership

Diversity and learning
    Diversity of approaches and transport models
    Flexible, responsive and needs based solutions

   Quality standards in terms of organisational and operational processes,
       service delivery and customer care

     Integration and co-ordination with other services
     Complementary rather than competitive services

Value for money
    Value for money through efficient and effective service delivery and co-

Aims of the Rural Transport Programme

   1. To provide, enhance and sustain a nationwide community based public
      transport system in rural areas.
   2. To maximise existing transport assets and to utilise new technology
      where necessary in the co-ordination and development of transport.
   3. To act as a catalyst in providing models of partnership at all levels
      where key sectors actively engage in transport provision.
   4. To ensure equality of access for all, including older people as well as
      people with mobility, sensory and cognitive impairments.
   5. To maintain, promote and develop models of good practice.
   6. To continue to contribute to rural public transport policy.

The programme aims will be realised as follows:


Aim 1:
To provide, enhance and sustain a nationwide community based rural public
transport system by:

   a. Expansion of rural public transport services to all rural areas on a
      phased basis based on (i) the capacity of groups to expand and (ii)
      support for the establishment of new rural community transport groups
      where necessary.
   b. Adoption of models of service provision that are flexible to the needs of
      specific local areas and promote diversity.
   c. Development of a new brand for the RTP.
   d. Co-ordination of services with other transport providers.
   e. Introducing minimum service levels.

Aim 2:
To maximise existing transport assets and to utilise new technology in the co-
ordination and development of transport by:

      a. Identifying opportunities for increased services and improved
      b. Building on existing experience, knowledge and tangible assets
      c. Further developing a range of flexible responses through
          encouraging/providing opportunities for the optimum use of existing
          underutilised assets.
      d. Creating a uniform mapping system which analyses and documents
         existing trends and future potential.
      e. Evaluating, implementing and sharing different levels of technology.
      f. Developing a code of practice in relation to technological policies.

Aim 3:
To act as a catalyst in providing models of partnership at all levels where key
sectors actively engage in transport provision:

   a. At local level by encouraging and providing the opportunity for key
      sectors to become in involved including the community & voluntary
      sector; local development sector; local authorities; county development
      boards; public & private transport representatives, sectoral interests
      and other statutory agencies.
   b. At national level by engaging with relevant Government Departments
      and agencies.

Aim 4:
To ensure equality of access to all users by:

   a. Providing acceptable and affordable door-to-door transport services
      that are responsive, flexible and are needs orientated.
   b. Ensuring all-ability access
   c. Adopting community development principles
   d. Being inclusive of all groups and individuals
   e. Working with and linking to local agencies and providers


   f. Adopting a holistic approach
   g. Honouring entitlements
   h. Proofing according to established national guidelines

Aim 5:
To maintain, promote and develop models of good practice by:

   a. Adhering to the ethos and principles outlined in the programme
      guidelines, at all levels from organisation through to operation and
      delivery of transport services.
   b. Applying models of good practice in Ireland based on accepted
      international standards and best practice.
   c. Disseminating information on the activities and learning from the
   d. Developing and implementing appropriate standards

Aim 6:
To continue to contribute to rural public transport policy by:

   a. Recording and documenting processes and procedures
   b. Continually evaluating, analysing and measuring the achievements and
      outcomes in quantitative and qualitative terms
   c. Working within agreed and transparent parameters
   d. Highlighting the successes and challenges that arise in delivery to the
      relevant Departments and agencies
   e. Building on the recommendations of ‘Progressing Rural Public
      Transport in Ireland’.
   f. Committing to the delivery of Rural Transport in accordance with the
      guidelines established

Eligible organisations for funding under the RTP

In early 2007, a facilitation and review process was undertaken to make
recommendations to Pobal and the Department of Transport with respect to
the optimum formal structural arrangements to manage the Rural Transport
Programme at local level into the future and to achieve national coverage.

The results of this process, along with other policy decisions, will guide how
the programme is mainstreamed and what local structures will deliver the
programme nationwide. In order to build upon the learning and experiences
of the existing structures to date, a public call for applications will not be made
for the new programme.

Where possible and subject to satisfactory corporate governance
requirements, existing structures may be asked to expand or amalgamate so
that gaps in coverage can be met on a phased basis. In a limited number of
exceptional cases, new projects may be formed where it is unlikely that the
expansion of existing structures will adequately cater for meeting the needs of
that area.


All participating groups must be constituted as a company limited by
guarantee or a suitable other structure for the purposes of this programme, as
determined by Pobal.

In addition, all groups must demonstrate that they have the appropriate
corporate governance requirements, as listed in Appendix 1, to ensure

The application process

Groups that are deemed eligible following the facilitation and review process,
will be requested to submit a Business Plan to Pobal for the period 2008-
2010. It is likely that this will take place on a phased basis. The core
requirements to be addressed in the Business Plan are outlined in a separate
attachment to this document.

As Business Plans are received, the process of assessment will commence
and a letter confirming receipt of plans will be sent to each applicant. The
evaluators of the plans may request supplementary information
for the purposes of clarification. In some instances, pre-development funding
may be issued to new groups to support the development of a plan,
particularly in areas where there may not be sufficient expertise or experience
of working within this programme.

The appraisal process

All Business Plan proposals from approved RTP groups will be subject to
evaluation according to the selection criteria outlined hereunder, which might
include an independent external appraisal. Plans that are not sufficiently
developed or that do not conform to the Programme objectives and principles
may be deemed ineligible for funding.

General criteria for appraisal

Plans will be appraised in accordance with the following criteria:

   1. Evidence of need – for example:
         - Local socio-economic profile
         - Consultation process
         - Understanding and assessment of local transport needs

   2. Strength of the proposal – for example:
         - Quality of the plan
         - Proposed strategy and services
         - Degree to which the plan will meet identified local needs
         - Degree to which the plan will meet the programme ethos, aims
            & objectives
         - Process for local prioritisation
         - Flexibility & innovation


          -   The scope for synergies with the services of other transport

   3. Capacity of the organisation – for example:
        - Corporate governance system
        - Management capacity & membership
        - Adequate financial controls and competence
        - Other procedures such as health & safety; procurement; human
           resources and recruitment, etc.
        - Track record in handling public funds
        - Evidence of planning and review

   4. Value for money – for example:
         - Quality of proposals and potential impact
         - Clarity & appropriateness of financial plan and projections
         - Clear and realistic targets

   5. Partnership approach – for example:
         - Evidence of linkages with key sectors (e.g. HSE)
         - Involvement of and consultation with the public
         - Communication strategy

   6. Spatial & socio-economic considerations – for example:
        - Size of proposed operational area
        - Level of need
        - Level of existing transport and service provision


Successful groups will be invited to submit, within a twelve-week period,
Business Plans for the period 2008-2010. These plans will be appraised and
an allocation will be made to individual groups. The timeframe for allocations
will depend on the degree of preparedness of existing groups and the speed
at which the facilitation and appraisal processes can be completed.

Guidelines for Business Plans

Each approved group will be requested to submit a Business Plan in
accordance with the guidelines developed. A template is also available for
financial projections. All plans must be typed and they must be approved by
project Boards of Management prior to submission to Pobal. Supporting
documentation or other relevant information may be attached. Pobal reserves
the right to seek additional information \ clarification as required.

Terms and conditions of funding

All participating groups will be required to give undertakings that they will
comply with the terms and conditions of the RTP and the relevant Boards of
Management will have to sign a standard contract to this effect.


The purpose of these terms and conditions is to protect the public purse, to
ensure that the funds are spent wisely, and to encourage applicants to
establish and maintain good accounting and reporting structures. The Minister
for Transport reserves the right to set other terms and conditions relating to
this funding.

Groups must confirm, by signing the contract, that they will adhere to the
terms and conditions before the applicants can presume any commitment on
the part of the RTP relating to the draw down of funds under the new

The applicant group must agree to have its operations monitored by the
Department of Transport and, where applicable, by the Department of Social
and Family Affairs and Pobal, or its agents and agree to allow access to all
appropriate records as is necessary for that purpose.

Operational Requirements

In order to ensure that the programme is effectively managed at local level,
each participating RTP group will have to ensure that it is in compliance with a
number of operational requirements in the areas of corporate governance and
accountability. A list of these requirements is included in Appendix 1 to this

Eligible costs

Eligible categories for funding under the Programme include the following:

      Administrative costs – including items such as staffing, office costs
      Developmental costs & technical assistance – including items such as
       evaluation, planning, training, research, development and promotion
      Operational costs – including service delivery costs

The capital costs associated with purchasing or fitting vehicles or constructing
bus stops or other larger scale infrastructure costs are not eligible expenditure
items under this programme.

In select instances, it may be possible to award pre-development funding to
areas where there has been no significant development to date.

Reporting requirements

A performance monitoring system will be in operation to record performance
and the extent to which the aims and objectives of the programme are being
met. This system will include monitoring quantitative and qualitative aspects
of the programme and will necessitate the provision of monthly and annual
reports. Standard templates will be developed to ease the collection and
collation of this information.


Financial reporting

A financial reporting system will be in operation, which will require quarterly
and annual returns. A separate financial procedures manual and templates
will be provided to all participating projects.




Corporate Governance
   Appropriate company structure with Memo & Articles of Association
   Board of Management in place where:
         - a minimum of 7 members participate
         - a minimum of bi-monthly Board meetings are held
         - a gender balance is achieved
         - a formal sub-committee structure is in place for management
            support and particular areas of activity
   Agreed policies in place for the appointment and rotation of
   A clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of Board and
     subcommittee membership
   A clear understanding of the expectations of Board members and the
     time commitments required
   Practical structures and communication systems in place that ensure
     two-way feedback and accountability between the various
     representatives, the project and the wider community
   Clear community participation to ensure that the work is properly
     targeted and community based

   Be able to make commitments to attend Board meetings, sub-
     committee meetings and be available, where possible for networking
     and training if required
   Commitment to and awareness of the legal responsibilities of directors
     in terms of the management of the company
   Be accountable to stakeholders and funders

Management capacity
   Board of management in place, preferably with expertise in some of the
     following areas:
     - Local knowledge              - Transport
     - Community work               - Business skills
     - Organisational skills        - Public policy
     - Financial                    - Co-ordination
     - Planning & review            - Consultation

Financial management and competence
    Financial manual with appropriate systems and procedures in place.
    Regular financial reports compiled, checked and presented.

Systems and procedures
    Ensure that adequate controls and systems are in place and that they
     are monitored and used, particularly in relation to:
        - human resources, recruitment, training and development.


          -   financial management (including risk management).
          -   health and safety.
          -   tendering and procurement.
          -   monitoring operations and performance

Partnership approach to work
    Must be able to illustrate a formal link and/or a two-way communication
      with the following key sectors:
          - Users
          - Community: geographical & target groups
          - Statutory
          - Voluntary / Sectoral interests
          - Local Government: CDB; SPC’s;
          - Local Development
          - Transport: public & private
    Have the ability to develop linkages with other community based
      structures and programmes
    Representation /participation on other structures locally or regionally

Ethos and ethics
    Board members participating on a voluntary basis
    Have the ability to consult and understand the needs of the community
    Be open to working with different target groups and people

Value for money
    Be conscious of the need that public funding must be spent and
      accounted for in an efficient and effective way

Willingness to proceed
    Evidence of commitment and full board agreement to proceed
       according to the guidelines and objectives of the programme

Other requirements

In order to comply with various public service obligations, the following
requirements will operate within the programme:

Health and Safety
A health and safety management system has been developed for the
programme and each group will be required to ensure that they meet the RTP
health and safety requirements (see RTP manual).

Complaints and redress procedure
A central complaints and redress procedure system will be established by
Pobal for the new programme.

Freedom of Information
The Programme is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information
Act. The records of organisations with whom Pobal have a contract for


service are covered under the Freedom of Information Act. There is a
statutory obligation on Pobal’s beneficiaries to transfer records regarding this
programme when requested under Section 6(9) of the Freedom of Information
Act. It should be noted that beneficiaries are not Public Bodies under the Act
and that it is only their records relating to their contract with Pobal that are
subject to FOI.

Please revert to ‘Freedom of information – A guideline document for
beneficiaries’ circulated by Pobal in April 2006 for more information. This
document includes details of how Pobal deals with requests for information
under the Act. It also includes advice on record keeping and sample wording
that can be included in tendering and the issuing of contracts.


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