The smarter travel areas selected for funding were drawn from a recommended and ranked selection made by an independent panel formed to provide recommendations on the smarter travel areas competition. The panel comprised representatives of my Department, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and an independent expert in sustainable travel. The adjudication process involved site visits, assessment of the bid documents submitted from each of the 11 short-listed bid areas and an interview with each delivery team.
The criteria for selection, made available to all authorities in advance, were projected outcomes and impacts of the proposals, for example, percentage of modal shift from the car; project design and infrastructure; information and behavioural change campaigns; and delivery and implementation plans. A guidance document was also made available with further information as to requirements provided under each of these headings.
At the competition launch, the intended programme expenditure was €50 million over five years, but in the current economic climate, this has been reduced to €23 million. Given the current fiscal situation, only a small number could be funded. In the case of Galway, for example, although it was ranked second funding was not awarded because the scale of the bid and the reduction of the programme's budget would have precluded investment in any other areas. However, I hope the disappointed authorities will not be deterred from building on the ambitions which they developed for their areas and which they may be able to progress over time, outside the competition.
I understand the Drimnagh bid received widespread endorsement from local community groups, residents' associations and local businesses. In this regard, and based on the input of the local Government Deputies, I have asked the National Transport Authority to take a positive look at elements of the Drimnagh bid because it has such strong community support.
The smarter travel areas programme has a budget of €23 million over five years. The total smarter travel investment funding available to the national sustainable travel office in my Department is €65 million over five years. The NTA also has a significant budget for sustainable transport improvements in the greater Dublin area and the regional cities to 2016, providing opportunities for authorities to fund smarter travel investment. I understand the NTA will make available funding in excess of €20 million in 2012 for sustainable transport investment in the GDA.