I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 and 2 together.
These questions are about the M50. As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall maintenance 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 under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. The M50 upgrade project, which was approved in 2005, resulted in the addition of a third lane in both directions from the M1 to Sandyford and a fourth auxiliary lane in places, together with the development of freeflow junctions and the introduction of barrier-free tolling. This major investment has significantly enhanced the capacity of the motorway. There are no proposals at present for further investment in additional capacity. One of the conditions attached to An Bord Pleanála's approval of the upgrade was the publication of a scheme of demand management measures within three years of the completion of the work. The National Roads Authority, in conjunction with the relevant local authorities, has been working on such a scheme and a draft report was published recently.
I undertook a review of tolling policy when I took over as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. Having reviewed the position, and in the context of budgetary measures that led to an increase in VAT and carbon tax, I decided in late 2011 that new tolls would not be introduced during my term as Minister. This position remains unchanged. The likely impact of multi-point tolling on the M50 would be to push vehicles onto other roads and through local communities. At present, congestion is not the problem it was when An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the M50 upgrade, but it will re-emerge as an issue if and when the economy recovers. At that point, we will need a joined-up solution to deal with congestion across the greater Dublin area, and not just on the M50. Apart from tolling, the draft report does include other measures specific to the effective operation of the M50 which merit consideration. Overall, I see the demand management report as part of a process to look at options for managing traffic in the greater Dublin area in the future. The potential role of bus rapid transport within the greater Dublin area is being considered in that context. However, I am unsure whether a bus rapid transport service on the M50 would be appropriate or useful given the difficulty people would have in getting to bus stops on a motorway.