I thank the Minister, Deputy Ross, for coming to the House to respond to the issue I raise. As the Ceann Comhairle said, I wish to deal with issues concerning public transport, in particular in north Kildare. Public transport is socially inclusive. Negotiating traffic in Dublin for car users is becoming increasingly impossible. We need a service that is regular and reliable for the public to engage with and to use. We need sustainable modes of transport. The Government should highlight the environmental benefit of public transport. If we have a regular and reliable service, people will use it. Greater tax relief must be provided through the taxsaver commuter ticket scheme. Dublin fares poorly in terms of traffic congestion when it comes to our European counterparts. It was rated among the worst in a new global report. Improving public transport is the best way to address the issue as, currently, Dublin is an unfriendly place to drive due to congestion.
The commuter belts need better public transport. That includes Kildare North, which I represent, and the need for facilities such as park and ride services. We fought hard to get a park and ride service in Kilcock, which is working very well. I was instrumental in delivering that. However, Kilcock needs a better bus and rail service. It does not have a reliable bus and rail service and the town is expanding. We need greater focus on that and there must be improvements in that area.
Maynooth and Kildare rail services, which service Hazelhatch and Sallins, also need extra capacity. There is a growing requirement for extra capacity, and with the current housing developments and future planned housing, extra capacity must be provided. Currently, those trains are leaving people on the platforms in the morning.
The need for orbital bus routes linking villages such as Straffan, Ardclough and Clane to Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Irish Rail services is critical. About a year ago, I was involved in implementing and advocating for the 139 orbital service, which connects Naas all the way to Blanchardstown via Sallins, Clane, Rathcoffey, Maynooth and Leixlip. That service is working exceptionally well and has proven to be a success. That is the reason we need more of those type of services connecting to the main services.
The BusConnects proposal is generally acceptable. However, it is proposed that Riverforest in Leixlip will lose a direct service to Dublin. That is not the way to encourage people to use public transport. BusConnects should be about adding to the current services to supplement and complement them, not removing existing services. For example, the BusConnects proposal on the W8 route, which connects Maynooth, a university town, and Celbridge, which together have a population of more than 50,000 people, to Tallaght, needs to be implemented as a priority. That route connects important services such as hospitals, colleges and the Luas lines. We need those services as quickly as possible. The 259 service connects Celbridge and Leixlip, another populated area of more than 40,000 people.
Celbridge has a population of 22,000. It does not have a direct service to Dublin. The 67X service runs in the morning and in the afternoon. All of those are at capacity. I have met Dublin Bus representatives on that and what is needed is two additional services to the morning and evening 67X service. Currently, people are being left behind. The last 67X going to Celbridge leaves Dublin at 5.50 in the evening, which is far too early. The 67, which services Celbridge, also services Lucan and Chapelizod. The problem that arises in that respect is that when the buses are leaving town, the people from Celbridge cannot get on them, and when they leave Chapelizod and Lucan they are only half full. They are serviced by other bus services but, unfortunately, the Celbridge people are left on the footpath at the bus stops because they cannot get on those buses. When they are leaving Lucan, they have capacity but that is no good to the people who are left behind. As a result, people are late for appointments, whether it be college, work, medical appointments or whatever, and it is causing major issues.