Tá brón orm that I do not have enough of the líofacht to respond to the statement from the Deputy as Gaeilge but I want to accurately respond to the points he made. The National Transport Authority, NTA, has responsibility for securing the provision of public transport services, including the provision of PSO subvented services. I ensured that PSO funding was maintained at current levels in the last budget, the first time this has happened since 2008. I was also able to secure an additional €101 million in funding for our public transport companies in a Supplementary Estimate,
Expressway services are commercial services operated in competition with private operators on main trunk routes and are licensed by the NTA. These commercial services do not receive any PSO funding from the Exchequer. I am acutely aware of the concerns of many people regarding recent decisions to withdraw services to a number of intermediate locations on major routes into Dublin. Major improvements to the national roads network have provided the opportunity for commercial bus operators to offer improved journey times between Dublin and the regional cities in particular with the consequent effect of reducing the level of service provided to a number of intermediate locations.
There are two routes - not hundreds, as reported in the media - that are currently at issue. These are routes 5 and 7. At a recent community meeting in Castlecomer, Bus Éireann agreed to postpone the changes to its licensed route 7 services until June. A working group comprising local representatives and members of the local community is now in place to respond to this issue. The NTA is examining what might be an appropriate PSO service to put in place subject to funding.
Separately, the NTA, in conjunction with Bus Éireann, is examining options to reconfigure existing PSO services in the south east in order to maintain socially necessary services to the affected areas following the withdrawal of route 5.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
I assure the Deputy that I will continue to work with the NTA on wider issues around transport in rural Ireland over the coming weeks.