Departmental Expenditure

Questions (669)

Robert Troy

Question:

669. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the cost of drivers of each vehicle assigned to him and Ministers of State in his Department since March 2011; the mileage and other costs claimed in respect of each since March 2011; the overall yearly costs of ministerial cars in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12466/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The information requested by the Deputy is being compiled and will be forwarded as soon as possible.

As the Deputy will be aware, prior to the current Government, Cabinet Ministers were provided with a Ministerial car and a Garda driver, the cost and provision of which was not the responsibility of the Department of Transport. For the Deputy’s information I am advised that the average cost of the provision of a State Car and Garda drivers during the last government was around €280,000 per annum.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (670)

Robert Troy

Question:

670. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of credit cards issued to staff and Ministers in his Department and the total costs of each card since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12485/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

My Department has issued 80 Low Value Purchase Credit Cards in total which includes 70 to the Irish Coast Guard and 10 to to other Departmental staff since March 2011.  The total expenditure incurred using the cards from March 2011 to February 2013 was €196,689. 

Low Value Purchase Credit Cards have not been issued to me, the Ministers of State in my Department, or to any politically appointed staff.  

Driving Licence Issues

Questions (671, 685)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

671. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if there is to be a role for scanned photographs within the SAFE process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12526/13]

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Clare Daly

Question:

685. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will ensure that scanned photographs will be allowed as an option in the provision of new driving licences in order to protect jobs in the photo ID professional industry and avoid a monopoly situation in capturing images. [12910/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 671 and 685 together.

The Standard Authentication Framework Environment (SAFE) was designed by the Departments of Finance and Social Protection in order to provide a system of standards and guarantees for identification of persons.  The Deputy may wish to ask my colleagues the Ministers for Finance and Social Protection if he wishes to have further information on the details of SAFE.

I take it that the reference here is to the fact that SAFE standards are incorporated in the new National Driver Licensing Service under the Road Safety Authority (RSA).  The RSA ran a tender competition for front office services for the new system.  While I had no role in this process, I understand from the RSA that it was open to tenderers to propose how best to capture images in conformity with SAFE requirements, and that all tenderers proposed digital capture.  The contract as awarded therefore includes this element, and any departure from it would mean having to compensate the winning tenderer for changing the process, as well as running a less than optimal process for the duration of the contract.  In the case of photo capture for driver licensing, therefore, the question of leeway within the SAFE structure is academic.

Taxi Regulations

Questions (672)

Finian McGrath

Question:

672. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will support a matter (details supplied) regarding the Taxi Regulation Bill. [12530/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Section 13 of the Taxi Regulation Bill provides for a prohibition on the transfer of an Small Public Service Vehicle (SPSV) licence. 

I am cognisant of the fact that in the event of the death of an SPSV licence holder this prohibition could have an undue negative impact on the continuity of an SPSV business operated as a family concern. On review of this matter therefore I have introduced a new section to the Bill dealing with the death of a licence holder. The amendment introducing this new section was passed by the Seanad last week.  Under the new Section 14 of the Bill a licence applicant or holder will be able to nominate their representative to the National Transport Authority. In the event of the death of the licence holder the nominated representative can within 3 months apply to continue to operate the licence until expiry and to apply for the licence renewal thereafter.

Road Safety Statistics

Questions (673)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

673. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the increase in road deaths in the first quarter of 2013 to 37 in comparison to the 23 persons who lost their lives in the same period of 2012 and in view of the comments by the Road Safety Authority in relation to the increase in road fatalities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12558/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

While the first quarter of the year has yet to draw to a close, it is still too early to draw any firm conclusions from the collisions that have occurred to date.  There are forensic examinations yet to be completed by the Gardaí and it is difficult to say that road deaths are on an upward trend based on such a short period of time.  It is important to understand that we have had similar bad periods on our roads, as recently as last year in fact, but the toll for the year as a whole continued the downward trend.

The most important approach to be taken at this time is to take heed of these recent collisions and remind road users to take greater care.

Driving Licence Issues

Questions (674)

Michael Lowry

Question:

674. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the effect of the new credit card style of driving licence on photo ID professionals; if he will put in place a system whereby those applying for a licence can obtain a scanned photo from photo ID professionals for use on their licence; the steps being taken to preserve jobs in this industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12561/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Government decided in 2011 to centralise driver licence provision, following an examination of the options for driver licensing which found that a centralised system would offer enhanced security and consistency, and be more efficient and cost-effective. The Road Safety Authority (Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness) Act 2012 provides for the RSA to become the central driver licensing authority in Ireland.  This came into effect on 12 January 2013. 

The new system involves three outsourced elements, a card production facility, a front office for engaging with the customer, and a back office to process applications.  All three are overseen by a ‘centre of excellence’ based in the RSA itself.   The card licence is standardised across the European Union and therefore there must be consistency in the quality and standard of information used.  The photograph will be digital and will not be stuck on to the card in the way it was on the old paper licence.  The capture of the photograph is included in the fee for the licence. As the system develops, the SAFE2 ID standard will be implemented, at which point the only option will be the digital photo taken at the Front Office Network.

The operation of the tender processes for the outsourced elements was a matter for the RSA, I had no power to intervene in it, and the contractors have already been procured.

Dublin Bus Services

Questions (675)

Seán Kenny

Question:

675. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will contact the CEO of Dublin Bus requesting that additional buses be laid on at the conclusion of major sporting or concert venues (details supplied) in order to deal with the crowds leaving the events; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12621/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The provision of services is an operational matter for Dublin Bus, in conjunction with the National Transport Authority (NTA), and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Bus Éireann Services

Questions (676)

Derek Nolan

Question:

676. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on whether the number of licences issued by the NTA for tourist day tours from Dublin to the West is excessive, in view of complaints by local businesses in the West that such trips do not result in a financial benefit to the local economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12647/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The licensing of bus services is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Taxi Regulations

Questions (677, 681)

Regina Doherty

Question:

677. Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will investigate alternative options to the implementation of six monthly licence renewals for limousines which are more than ten years old, which might help the limousine sector to survive in an increasingly challenging environment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12665/13]

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Regina Doherty

Question:

681. Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will investigate alternative options to the implementation of six monthly licence renewals for wedding limousines which are more than ten years old. which might help the limousine sector to survive in an increasingly challenging environment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12807/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 677 and 681 together.

The regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry, including vehicle standards, is a matter for the National Transport Authority under the Public Transport Regulation Act, 2009.

In accordance with Action 10 of the Taxi Regulation Review Report 2011, the vehicle age limit at licence issue or licence renewal for taxi, wheelchair accessible taxis and hackneys will be nine years for all new vehicles entering the fleet and for vehicles that have entered the fleet since 1st January 2009.  For existing vehicles in the fleet prior to 1st January 2009, those vehicles will be allowed to operate up to 14 years of age, subject to passing a roadworthiness (NCT) test and an NTA Licence Renewal Assessment at six monthly intervals where the vehicle is nine years old and above.  Over a period of time, vehicles over nine years will gradually transition out of the fleet.

While limousines are exempt from the age limits they are subject to the 6-monthly testing and renewal assessment requirements if the vehicle is older than 10 years. The 6-month licence issued upon passing the tests is at half the cost of a one year licence.

This regulatory measure is intended to promote vehicle standards that improve passenger and road safety.

Rail Services

Questions (678)

Joe McHugh

Question:

678. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will give an update on freight movement here; if there has been an increase in freight movements by rail since 2008; if he envisages increases in the coming years; if he will engage with the Northern Ireland Executive on developing common policies in this respect; if he will give details of his most recent engagements with Iarnród Éireann on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12715/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

While various factors led to a reduction in rail freight in Ireland in the decade up to 2008, volumes grew by 9% between 2009 and 2010 and by 13% in 2011.  A further boost to the recovering freight business was received when an extension of the spur to Dublin Port was opened in July 2011.

There is clearly an important role for rail freight within the national freight movement context. However, it must also be acknowledged that even a substantial increase in rail based freight movements to and from the ports will still result in the vast majority of freight movements being carried by road.

I would point out that an all-island rail freight group with a wide range of participants from the public and private sector is in operation under the auspices of the Irish Exporters Association.  This was one of the initiatives of the All Island Freight Forum, sponsored  by my Department and the Department for Regional Development (Northern Ireland) and the group continues to meet regularly.

I am aware that the Department for Regional Development has also recently issued a consultation paper on Future Railway Investment, which indicates that no freight has been carried on the Northern Ireland rail network since 2003. It also states there has been little interest demonstrated by investors in the development of new or improved domestic or international rail freight services into or out of Northern Ireland.

I have regular engagements with the Board and senior management of Iarnród Éireann on a variety of issues but have not had discussions on this issue. I have referred the Deputy's question to Iarnród Éireann also in order to provide any further update on rail freight movements and plans for the future. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Roads Maintenance

Questions (679)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

679. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the situation in the town of Glenties, County Donegal, where in September 2010 during the annual fair, a member of An Garda Síochána diverted a lorry loaded with stone along a county road by-pass of the town which resulted in the collapse of the Mulantiboyle bridge, with this being the only route to by-pass the town, his views on whether at present the town is in a very vulnerable position with regard to any accidents or emergencies which may occur in the town as there is currently no route to divert traffic; if he will agree to prioritise funding in 2014 to ensure that this bridge is reinstated as a matter of safety and security for the town on Glenties. [12802/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is a statutory function of each road authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993.  The carrying out of works on these roads is a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants. The selection and prioritisation of road works is also a matter for the local authority.

I announced the 2013 regional and local road grant allocations on 25th January this year.  Over €349 million is being provided to local authorities for these grants in 2013.  From this allocation Donegal County Council has been allocated over €18 million which includes an allocation of €100,000 towards Mulantiboyle Bridge under the Specific Improvement Grants Scheme.

I will announce the 2014 allocations early next year.

Road Improvement Schemes

Question No. 681 answered with Question No. 677.

Questions (680)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

680. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that funding allocated to the main street of Ardara Town, County Donegal, was not spent in this area; if he will agree to prioritise this town which is on the N56, national secondary route, to ensure that the obvious safety measures in the town can be resolved and ensure that this heritage town which attracts a large number of tourists each year can continue to progress on the already extremely progressive works being undertaken by the local community.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12803/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a matter in the first instance for the NRA in accordance with Section 19 of the Roads Act.

Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NRA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don’t receive a reply within 10 working days.

Question No. 681 answered with Question No. 677.

Taxi Regulations

Questions (682)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

682. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of SPSV licence holders here; and the number of these licences currently active and held by drivers working in the taxi industry. [12849/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I am informed by the National Transport Authority (NTA) that as of the end of February this year, the total number of active SPSV vehicle licences is 22,810 and the total number of active SPSV driver licences is 33,717. 

I understand that a reliable count of inactive licences is not available, as this figure would change nearly every day due to the late renewal of some licences.

Taxi Regulations

Questions (683)

Joe McHugh

Question:

683. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason for the new clocking in system that obtains for taxi drivers; the reason for a uniform national system; if he acknowledges the potential benefits of a system that would acknowledge regional differences within the industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12889/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The view of the Taxi Regulation Review Group, giving rise to Action 40 of the Review Report, is that it is necessary to have a system that links SPSV licenced drivers to specific small public service vehicles (SPSVs) so that the identification of the authorised driver of an SPSV is available in real time.  This is in the general interest of consumers who use taxis and for enforcement officers regulating the taxi industry. 

From the end of January 2013 it became a requirement that all SPSV operators notify the National Transport Authority (NTA) about the vehicles they are operating at any time. This is a once-off notification in the case of SPSV drivers who own their own vehicle.  Any changes such as with respect to rental agreements or change of vehicle will also need to be notified.

I understand that the NTA has made available free IT tools to facilitate the notification process - the "Taxi Industry Portal" smartphone application can be downloaded onto both Apple and Android smartphones. In addition, SPSV operators can use any PC or laptop to access the Taxi Portal over the Internet. A call centre also operates all-day every-day to take notifications by telephone.

Given the rationale underpinning this system it is not clear to me that there is any case for a different approach on a regional basis.

Taxi Regulations

Question No. 685 answered with Question No. 671.

Questions (684)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

684. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will make any allowance for persons who hold an SPSV licence who recently replaced their vehicle but are now found to be in contravention of new regulation such as those on tinted windows and are unable to pay to replace these windows at this moment in time (details supplied). [12897/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry, including vehicle standards, is a matter for the NTA under the Public Transport Regulation Act, 2009. 

I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days. 

Question No. 685 answered with Question No. 671.

Jobs Initiative

Questions (686)

Seán Fleming

Question:

686. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the funding available under the jobs initiative programme in 2013; the closing dates for receipt of applications; when decisions regarding approval of funding will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12926/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

It is unclear the funding to which the Deputy is referring. For his information, there is no additional funding being provided to my Department outside of the normal budgetary and estimates process.

Road Safety Issues

Questions (687)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

687. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he is concerned at incidents involving the collision of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians with Luas trams, in particular in Dublin city centre; if he has been briefed by Veolia on this matter; his views on whether stricter penalties may be necessary for careless behaviour while driving, cycling or walking in view of the serious negative impact such collisions may have on commuter safety and significant interruptions to Luas services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13026/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Road Traffic Acts and the regulations made under those Acts, provide for various prohibitions and restrictions in respect of the use of our roads, including those shared road spaces such as the LUAS tramways. Where a driver, cyclist or pedestrian commits an offence under the Acts or regulations, there are a number of sanctions available to the Courts to deal with such offences. Careless driving, for example, carries 5 penalty points on conviction or at the discretion of the Judge, a consequential disqualification may be applied instead. Various fines and terms of imprisonment may also apply. Enforcement of the legislation is a matter for the Garda Síochána. I do not have any plans to amend the legislation at this time and believe that the matter raised by the Deputy is best dealt with through increased road safety awareness and education rather than providing for more stringent penalties.

Public Transport Provision

Questions (688)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

688. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the estimated level of non-payment of fares on public transport services including DART, Luas, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann; if he will estimate the financial loss to the public transport companies of the non-payment of fares; the measures being considered to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13027/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The issue raised is an operational matter for the companies concerned and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the companies for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive replies within ten working days.