That Seanad Éireann calls on the Government to implement a major investment programme in public transport, both with immediate effect and as a significant part of the National Development Plan 2000-2006 to specifically provide the following measures:
(a) a 40 per cent increase in the capacity of Dublin Bus, with particular emphasis on fleet expansion and daily peak travel demand;
(b) the upgrading of the railway network to ensure that passenger safety is not compromised and that the recommendations from the two recent consultants reports relating to investment in track, signalling, equipment and rolling stock are implemented, and
(c) the construction of the LUAS project with light rail provision for the first three routes as proposed in the Government decision earlier this year.
I welcome the Minister to the House for this important debate. The motion relates to investment in a major programme to improve public transport with immediate and long-term effect. We are particularly concerned about the fact that the transport system is grinding to a halt. In the cities, towns and villages and, indeed, everywhere transport and traffic are a major issue. This motion is an attempt by Fine Gael to address the issue in a practical and positive way and my colleagues will deal with aspects of it. We suggest in the motion where the Government ought to spend extra money and what it ought to be doing. The bottom line is this, that the public is deeply concerned about traffic management.
I was told recently by a person in a rural village that it is now impossible to walk the roads in the evening because of traffic. We must deal with the monopoly of the motor car in our lives and its interference with the basic privileges to which people are entitled. It is increasingly difficult to cross the streets because money has not been provided to build ramps to slow down traffic. We should consider pedestrianising our streets as part of traffic management in urban areas.
Paragraph (b) of the motion states: "the upgrading of the railway network to ensure that passenger safety is not compromised and that the recommendations from the two recent consultants reports relating to investment in track, signalling, equipment and rolling stock are implemented". On 9 November the Minister for Public Enterprise, Deputy O'Rourke, published the strategic review of railway safety, which she commissioned with Government approval earlier in the year. While the report is extremely detailed, the Department only published a summary of it. I welcome the Minister's decision to debate it last week.
I am concerned that the summary is different from the report. We are talking about investing in our railways to make them safer and our rolling stock better, so the document must be credible. The report drafted by the consultants, IRMS, states in its conclusions and recommendations that there has been a "lack of implementation of the recently developed safety management system throughout the system so that it affects the behaviour and attitudes of all employees". That has been changed in the document to read: "the recently developed SMS needs to be fully implemented throughout the railway". It does not state there has been a failure to implement it.
The phrase, "the absence or poor quality of engineering management standards, maintenance procedures and their documentation and the inability to meet or match resource requirements and their departments", has been changed to "the quality of engineering management standards, maintenance procedures and their documentation needs to be improved". The phrase, "poor occupational safety culture, particularly lack of real staff involvement and feedback", has been changed to "sufficient and correctly deployed resources need to be provided". Reference is also made to the absence of effective databases, but the report states that effective databases must be acquired.
The summary is not based on what the consultants said but on changes suggested by the Department. As a result, it lacks detail and the consultants' condemnation of some activities.