Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (724)

Robert Troy

Question:

724. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport not to make the proposed changes to the rural transport scheme in County Longford. [32190/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

My aim is to strengthen the RTP by ensuring a more efficient delivery structure by maximising integration with other state transport services and by making  the programme a sustainable part of the public transport system. This is in line with the Programme for Government commitment to maintain and extend the RTP with other local transport services.

To this end national responsibility for local and rural transport services integration, including the RTP, was assigned to the National Transport Authority (NTA) with effect from 1st April 2012, putting such services in a broader transport context.

I am well aware of the very valuable work done by RTP Groups in identifying and delivering the transport needs of their local community.  However, given that resources are limited and the Value for Money and Policy Review of the RTP, published last year recommended organisational restructuring to achieve efficiencies and the better alignment of the 35 RTP groups with local authorities, it is necessary that the current delivery mechanisms and structures are examined and revised. Current structures are not sustainable if the required efficiencies and savings are to be achieved. If these are not achieved then with the limited resources available services will decline.

Work has been underway over the last six months to determine the optimal structure for the delivery of rural transport from an efficiency and service perspective. This has involved consultations with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, the County and City Managers Association and the Rural Transport Network.

The NTA have made recommendations to me for a new structure which will allow for the maximising of spend on services and the reduction of administration costs. I will announce my decision in the next couple of weeks.

I am ensuring that any future structure for the RTP will be based on community input, local flexibility and involving the voluntary sector. Decisions surrounding matters such as door-to-door transport will continue to be made at local level and with the input of the voluntary and community sector. Rural Transport by its nature is community-based and this will remain under any new structure.