Road Safety

Questions (272)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

272. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which it is expected to ensure cyclists and pedestrians take appropriate measures to ensure their safety during road use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15651/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Ensuring the safety of vulnerable road users is an essential priority of my Department and the Road Safety Authority.  As in all areas of road safety, this involves a range of measures, but, ultimately, it is also important that cyclists and pedestrians, like all road-users, take responsibility for their own safety. The National Transport Authority (NTA) is responsible for the provision of public and sustainable transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area and the regional cities. The NTA provides funding to local authorities for a range of schemes to benefit cyclists, including the provision of infrastructure, and other measures to improve safety for commuters under the Sustainable Transport Management Grants Programme. We will continue to encourage cycling as a healthy and environmentally friendly mode of travel.

At the same time, we recognise that cyclists and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable road users.  The current Road Safety Strategy, which runs from 2013 to 2020, contains a number of measures to ensure greater safety in cycling and pedestrian activities.  These include: education to promote use of personal protection equipment and high visibility clothing; developing a standardised road safety cycling proficiency training programme for schools; and evaluating the cost-benefit of reducing VAT on personal protection equipment. My Department and I will work with the RSA and the other appropriate bodies to ensure that these recommendations are implemented.

Road Network

Questions (273)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

273. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which his Department continues to examine existing roads and motorways with a view to determination as to the extent to which such thoroughfares are deficient in terms of their capacity to meet present traffic volumes; the action he proposes to deal with issues such as apparent under capacity on the M50; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15652/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and 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. The M50 upgrade project, 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 NRA with the relevant local authorities has been working on such a scheme and a draft of their report has been published.

Regarding the overall position in respect of future transport investment and capacity constraints I wish to advise that my Department is currently drafting a Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport (SFILT). The preparation of the Framework will have regard to various transport objectives including the need to obtain best value for money through the timely maintenance and renewal of existing infrastructure and ensuring the best use of existing assets, improving the economic evaluation methodology for investment in new capacity to address or pre-empt bottlenecks, ensuring that the transport system is as safe as possible, promoting improved quality of life taking account of affordability considerations, accessibility and enhancing the public realm and improving integration of the transport system in both inter-modal and intra-modal terms.

National Cycle Network

Questions (274)

Brendan Smith

Question:

274. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding an application by Cavan, Leitrim and Sligo county councils for funding towards the development of a greenway on an old railway line; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15665/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Applications submitted to my Department under the National Cycle Network Funding Programme 2014-2016, including those from Cavan, Leitrim and Sligo County Councils, were assessed by a team comprising representatives from my Department, Fáilte Ireland, the National Transport Authority and the National Trails Office.  A total of 38 proposals were received from 28 authorities and the assessment phase is now complete. I am currently considering the recommendations of the team and I expect to be in a position to make an announcement in respect of successful projects very shortly.

Sports Capital Programme Applications Data

Questions (275)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

275. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number and value of applications for the sports capital programme received by his Department from Kerry clubs in the current round; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15674/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The application period closed on Monday, 10 March. A list of all applications by County received under the 2014 Sports Capital Programme will be published on the Department's website shortly.

VAT Rate Reductions

Question No. 277 answered with Question No. 259.

Questions (276)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

276. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the data his Department has available to highlight the positive impact on the industry of the 9% reduced rate of VAT since its introduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15677/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I strongly supported the continuation of the 9% VAT rate on the basis that the initiative had proved to be a major success.  This was based on the review of the impact of the reduced rate of VAT commissioned by Fáilte Ireland.  In summary, the report found there were a number of very positive developments in the tourism and hospitality industry after the introduction of the reduced rate.  These include: employment in all sectors covered by the 9% rate increased by approximately 10,000 up to the first quarter of 2013, including an increase of 7,000 in tourism and hospitality employment; price pass-through of the rate reduction to consumers was evident across nearly every category; renewed growth in overseas tourism numbers and earnings; increased activity levels apparent across the industry; and improved value for money perception across all visitors.

The report was published on Fáilte Ireland's website at the following address: http://www.failteireland.ie/FailteIreland/media/WebsiteStructure/Documents/3_Research_Insights/3_General_SurveysReports/Failte-Ireland-VAT-Study-1-0.pdf?ext=.pdf. Indeed, since that report was compiled, employment in the core accommodation and food sectors has increased further and the seasonally adjusted total in Quarter 4 of 2013 was 137,100, levels of employment in the sector not seen since 2007.  The continuation of the reduced rate is recognition by the Government of the importance of the tourism industry to the economy.  Together with other Budget initiatives such as the reduction in the travel tax to zero, the raising of the VAT threshold, the investment in the Wild Atlantic Way and the continuation of the diesel rebate, it will support the jobs in the sector and help create new jobs.

I thank my colleague Minister for Finance for maintaining the rate and urge tourism businesses to fully utilise the reduced rate while it remains in place to maintain value for money and support growth and job creation.

Question No. 277 answered with Question No. 259.

Private Bus Operators

Questions (278)

Brendan Smith

Question:

278. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if funding will be provided by the National Transport Authority towards the provision of a new bus service where Bus Éireann ceased operations and was in receipt of a subsidy (details supplied); if consideration will be given to this request of the coach operator, as an important service for a vast rural area is being provided by the operator and no other public transport is available in these areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15682/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The issue raised 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.