Written Answers. - Public Transport.
Minister for Public Enterprise
if she will give details of public transport measures announced during the summer recess; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
I was pleased to announce several major public transport measures during the summer recess. Details of these announcements were, of course, distributed to all Deputies and Senators at the time of the announcements. For your convenience, I attach copies of the relevant press releases to this reply.
The first of these major projects was the Government decision, which I announced on 31 July, to proceed with the development of a metro system for Dublin, comprising of three lines: a line from Shanganagh – near Bray, where passengers can interchange with DART – to Swords,via the city centre and Dublin Airport, using the old Harcourt Street line and a central tunnel starting in Ranelagh; a line from the Shanganagh-Swords line via Finglas, Blanchardstown and Clondalkin to Tallaght; and a line from Citywest to the city centre via Tallaght and Kimmage, connecting to the central tunnel on the Shanganagh-Swords line. The metro will be developed on a public private partnership, PPP, basis using a design, build, finance and operate mechanism.
The Government directed the CIE light rail project office immediately to commence the necessary preparatory work for the metro PPP with the objective of seeking invitations to tender within 12 months for the selection of the PPP consortium to undertake the development of the metro.
The metro is, of course, a key element of a medium to long-term integrated transportation strategy being finalised by the Dublin Transportation Office. Further details of this strategy will be published in the autumn.
The second of these developments was the Government decision approving the drafting of legislation to establish an independent statutory agency with responsibility for the procurement, on a PPP basis, of major rail based public transport infrastructure projects, including the metro.
The third and most recent public transport measure was the publication on 4 September of a public consultation document entitled A New Institutional and Regulatory Framework for Public Transport. This document is the culmination of an examination of the Road Transport Act, 1932, which had as its objective increasing competition in the provision of public bus transport services in Dublin and also takes account of a review of the present institutional structures in the public transport area.
In this consultation document I propose a series of measures to reform the institutional and regulatory framework for public transport. The principal measures are the establishment of Bus Átha Cliath and Bus Éireann as separate, independent companies, with the freedom to operate transport services in each other's current area of business; the consideration of the transfer to private ownership of Bus Átha Cliath; the division of Iarnród Éireann into two separate companies – one responsible for railway infrastructure, the other for the operation of railway services; the possible dissolution of the CIÉ holding company; the establishment of an independent institution with the function of procuring major infrastructural projects on a public private partnership, PPP, basis; the establishment of an independent public transport regulatory function; the franchising of all bus routes in the greater Dublin area, to be done on a phased basis over three to four years and the establishment of an independent railway safety regulatory body. I have invited comments on these proposals by 13 October. The consultation document has been circulated to all Members of the House.
I believe that the developments I have briefly outlined above, following on from previous Government action, most notably the Luas project, show this Government's continued commitment to providing a viable alternative to commut ing by private car, in the form of a much improved public transport system.
Question No. 295 taken with Question No. 292.
Minister for Public Enterprise
the way in which the £2 million available from the Government for rural transport has been drawn down on a county by county basis; and if she will give details of the criteria on the way in which this money can be spent or used.
The commitment given in the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, concerning public transport initiatives in rural areas, is supported by the inclusion of a £3.5 million provision in the national development plan. This provision is for capital support for the development of pilot public transport initiatives in rural areas. The aim will be to encourage local or community based initiatives to provide bus services in such areas.
It is planned that the funding will be used to support a number of pilot rural transport projects in the period 2001 to 2003. The projects to be funded will be selected following a national call for proposals. The criteria under which proposals may be considered will be elaborated on in a discussion document which it is intended to publish before the end of this year.