altThe Mayor of Killarney in County Kerry, Southwest Ireland, has come up with an innovative way to get pensioners to and from their beloved bingo halls. Paddy Courtney wants to utilise the services of so-called “boy racers” and put them to good use by encouraging them to “adopt” a pensioner, who they would transport to local events like Mass and bingo. While the idea might sound a little far-fetched, Mr Courtney is proposing the scheme for isolated areas which are currently lacking reliable public transport services.

However, it’s a suggestion that has left road safety officials and rural rights campaigners raising eyebrows, and Irish Road Safety Authority Chief, Gay Byrne, has dismissed the mayor’s proposals on the grounds that it is well-intentioned but unworkable. Mr Byrne says the idea is “great in principle but [it] just won’t happen because of all the ramifications.” He went on to describe Mr Courtney’s suggestion as “kind” and well-meaning” and that he understands that transport is clearly a major issue for many elderly people living in rural areas. He recommended that if a pensioner knows a young person who is a safe and responsible driver, then the idea of getting a lift to bingo or Mass is a viable option. The charity Age Action has also waded in on the proposal, saying that if the elderly person doesn’t know the driver, and if the driver has a record or is known to drive recklessly, they should not consider getting into the car with them. Gerry Scully, Age Action’s director, added that he would recommend older people apply “a certain amount of caution and common sense” in that they should not accept the offer of a lift if they do not feel secure with the person offering it.

It’s certainly an interesting debate, even if it isn’t really workable in practice. It does, however, highlight the plight of elderly people living in rural and remote areas around the UK. One of the biggest bug-bears for both city and countryside dwellers is a lack of reliable public transport and, with more and more community bingo halls closing down each year due to the recession, people are often having to travel further and further away to get to their nearest facility, which is not always an option.

Do any of our readers have transport issues with getting to their favourite bingo halls? If so, are there any innovative suggestions you would like to make that could make your journey any easier?