Bus Services

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (1277)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

1277. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if real-time passenger information signs will be provided on the northbound bus routes in Lusk, Rush and Skerries; if a similar sign on the southbound bus routes in Rush will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18658/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the development and implementation of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including the provision of real time passenger information.

Noting their responsibility in relation to this matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for their consideration and direct reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Trans European Transport Network Programme

Questions (1278)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

1278. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the progress to date on the EU motorways of the sea initiative; the specific actions taken to date under the TEN-T guidelines to achieve a European maritime space without barriers; the implications for this initiative of Brexit and the UK landbridge; the port and ferry supports available under the initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18668/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is the funding instrument for the EU's Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). Motorways of the Sea is considered a horizontal priority of CEF and constitutes the maritime pillar of CEF. It is a separate and smaller funding stream under the overall CEF allocation, and it aims to promote green, viable, attractive and efficient sea-based transport links which are integrated into the entire transport chain.

To date, there have been fifty projects funded under the Motorways of the Sea funding priority overall. Over half of these have been for actions that can be categorised as environmental, with the remainder in the areas of logistics and integration and traffic management. Projects funded under the Motorways of the Sea funding priority must involve at least two Member States and at least one core TEN-T port. Details of all fifty projects, including beneficiaries and the amount of CEF funding awarded per project, are available on the website of the European Commission at the following link:

https://ec.europa.eu/inea/en/connecting-europe-facility/cef-transport/projects-by-horizontal-priority/motorways-of-the-sea-%28mos%29

There have been two successful applications for Motorways of the Sea funding involving Irish beneficiaries. Separately, Ireland's three core TEN-T ports of Dublin, Cork and Shannon Foynes have all been successful in applying for and obtaining significant CEF funding under broader maritime funding objectives.

The most recent Motorways of the Sea detailed implementation plan was published in April 2018 by the former European Coordinator for Motorways of the Sea, Mr Brian Simpson. Professor Kurt Bodewig assumed the role of European Coordinator for Motorways of the Sea in September 2018 and plans to publish a new detailed implementation plan in late 2019.

On 16 and 17 April 2019, a Motorways of the Sea seminar on the topic of Ireland's European Connectivity took place in Dublin. This seminar was organised by the TEN-T European Coordinators for Motorways of the Sea, the North Sea - Mediterranean Core Network Corridor, and the Atlantic Core Network Corridor. Present at this seminar were many of the key representatives in the port, shipping, freight and logistics sectors, from Ireland and other Member States with Atlantic coastlines, as well as officials from DG MOVE and the European Commission's Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA).

I met with the three TEN-T European Coordinators during their visit to Ireland to discuss the future of Motorways of the Sea in the context of the new Connecting Europe Facility Regulation for the period 2021 - 2027. During this meeting, I communicated to the Coordinators the potential that Brexit has to fracture the level of connectivity that currently exists for Irish traders. I emphasised that the capacity of our ports and our shipping links are vital to the success of the national economy, particularly as an island nation on the periphery of Europe. I stressed that EU funding opportunities and assistance through CEF and Motorways of the Sea would be welcome in order to encourage practical solutions to Ireland's current challenges.

Finally, with regard to the UK landbridge, the Government’s preparedness and contingency planning for Brexit has from the outset and as a priority included issues relating to its continued effective use, given its importance for Irish exporters and importers as a means of access to the rest of the single market, in particular with regard to agri-food products. This is an important issue with regard to protecting the competitiveness of our producers and ensuring continued unhampered access to the EU Single Market.

Retaining the effective use of the landbridge post-Brexit has been discussed at both political and official level with the UK and the EU. As a result of these contacts, the importance of maintaining the landbridge has been recognised through the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland in the draft Withdrawal Agreement. This reaffirms the commitment of the UK to facilitate the efficient and timely transit through the UK of goods moving from Ireland to another EU Member State or another country, or vice versa.

To this end, I welcome the EU's agreement that the UK will join the Common Transit Convention upon its departure from the EU, and that the formal process required for this to happen has concluded. The UK’s accession to the Common Travel Convention will play an important role in ensuring Ireland’s access to other EU Member States via the UK landbridge. Work has been on-going in partnership the European Commission and affected Member States with regard to the Union's internal transit procedures and infrastructural solutions at EU ports to facilitate transit post-Brexit and is progressing well, though the risk of delays in a no deal Brexit scenario remains a concern notably on the Dover-Calais route.

Taxi Regulations

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (1279)

Bríd Smith

Question:

1279. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the advertising or public information available to make persons using taxis aware of an application (details supplied). [18729/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry, including the 'Driver Check' app, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013.

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

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Road Safety

Questions (1280)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

1280. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason most rural sections of road are marked with speed limit signs of 80 km/h when the roadways are not capable of supporting such speeds; his plans to change same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18756/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy in relation to roads.

While the Road Traffic Act 2004 sets default speed limits for various categories of road, elected members of local authorities have the statutory responsibility for deciding on and making appropriate Special Speed Limit bye-laws for roads within their administrative area, subject to the consent of Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) for National Roads.

In reference to rural sections of road, which would fall under local and regional roads, a default speed limit of 80 km/h is the set speed limit. To guide local authorities in the application of these Special Speed Limits, my Department's updated Guidelines for Setting and Managing Speed Limits in Ireland , in 2015 is available to all local authorities. This sets out a range of criteria as to the setting of Speed Limits and reiterates the statutory responsibilities of elected members in relation to the making of such Special Speed Limit bye-laws.

It is important to remember that drivers are obliged to drive in accordance with the particular conditions in any situation, and the local and regional roads speed limit is not in any way an indication of the appropriate speed for any particular stretch of road. Failure to take account of the conditions at a particular location or time can lead to prosecution of a driver for careless or even dangerous driving.

Public Transport Provision

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (1281, 1282)

Jack Chambers

Question:

1281. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the consideration being given to extending the Luas to serve western areas of Dublin city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18761/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

1282. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the measures under way to address the public transport infrastructure deficit for commuters in western areas of Dublin city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18777/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1281 and 1282 together.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area.

As the Deputy is aware the NTA’s Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016 to 2035 sets out an evaluation of the transport needs of the GDA as a whole, and the capacity required to meet those needs.

Project Ireland 2040 provides funding toward the development of BusConnects, a transformative programme of improvements to both our bus services and infrastructure and West Dublin will benefit from that investment as will the rest of the city. In addition Project Ireland 2040 also details Government's intent to expand the DART network to include both the Maynooth and Kildare lines thereby benefitting residents of West Dublin in terms of improved journey times and service frequency.

Project Ireland 2040, which includes the National Development Plan 2018 - 2027, provides funding to undertake appraisal, planning and design of a possible extension of the LUAS network to West Dublin through a line to Lucan with the NTA’s Strategy.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a direct reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Brexit Issues

Questions (1283)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1283. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the implications of Brexit for the case of persons (details supplied); the options available to them regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18780/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Motorists resident in Ireland with a UK driving licence are being advised to exchange that licence for an Irish driving licence in advance of a no-deal Brexit. My Department has always advised people to exchange their EU driving licence for an Irish driving licence once they become a resident of Ireland.

The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement provides for arrangements to recognise UK driving licences across the EU during the transition period, that is, until December 2020. In the case of a no-deal Brexit the UK will no longer be a Member State and so the UK driving licence will not be recognised. People resident in Ireland will no longer be able to drive on a UK, driving licence.

However, legislation in the Road Traffic Acts allows for the recognition of foreign driving licences for exchange purposes. If there is a no deal Brexit, the UK becomes a 3rd country and the potential then exists for arrangements to be made under this legislation. Ireland will be pursuing this option but cannot commence this work until the UK leaves the EU. This may take a little time to complete as it involves a formal agreement and legislation here in Ireland.

National Car Test

Questions (1284)

Michael McGrath

Question:

1284. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason the national car test, NCT, service no longer accepts a passport as a valid form of identification; if the matter will be investigated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18809/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Road Traffic (National Car Test) Regulations 2017 (S.I. No. 415 of 2017), provide the legal basis under which proof of identification is required by an NCT Test Centre when a vehicle is presented for roadworthiness testing. The Regulations permit an NCT Test Centre to withhold a vehicle’s test certificate until identification has been produced. The Data Protection Commissioner has deemed a driving licence to be the most appropriate form of identification for this purpose, as a driver is required to produce a driving licence when operating a vehicle in a public place.

The Regulations also permit the details on the form of identification to be recorded by an NCT Test Centre. The data recorded is held for a period of 12 months and then deleted. As the Data Protection Commissioner would not permit the recording and retention of passport details, the use of a passport for identification purposes was stopped.

The recorded identification details allow the Road Safety Authority to trace cars for follow-up quality inspections, particularly where there has been a recent change in ownership. In addition, the application of these measures also acts as a deterrent to fraudulent activity in relation to roadworthiness testing. It is important information to help identify and investigate unusual patterns of activity relating to test quality or outcomes, where a common thread in such unusual patterns may involve the presenter of the vehicle(s).

Driver Licence Applications

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (1285)

Niall Collins

Question:

1285. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a person (details supplied) can apply for a full driving licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18812/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Sports Funding

Questions (1286)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1286. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if funding will be granted to a local authority (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18880/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund opened for applications on 19th November 2018 and the closing date for receipt of applications was 17th April. I can confirm that an application was received from the local authority referred to by the Deputy.

72 applications were received in total and my officials are currently undertaking an initial assessment of them. Details of all applications received will be published on the Department's website as soon as possible.

In view of the detailed information contained in each application, I am advised that it will take a number of months to have all of them assessed. Accordingly, I expect that it will be towards the end of this year before allocations are announced.

National Car Test

Questions (1287)

Imelda Munster

Question:

1287. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a passport is an acceptable form of identification for national car test, NCT, centres; if not, the reason it is not accepted; and the form of identification that should be presented. [18894/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Road Traffic (National Car Test) Regulations 2017 (S.I. No. 415 of 2017), provide the legal basis under which proof of identification is required by an NCT Test Centre when a vehicle is presented for roadworthiness testing. The Regulations permit an NCT Test Centre to withhold a vehicle’s test certificate until identification has been produced. The Data Protection Commissioner has deemed a driving licence to be the most appropriate form of identification for this purpose as a driver is required to produce a driving licence when operating a vehicle in a public place.

The Regulations also permit the details from the form of identification to be recorded by an NCT Test Centre. The data recorded is held for a period of 12 months and then deleted. As the Data Protection Commissioner would not permit the recording and retention of passport details, the use of a passport for identification purposes was discontinued. If a driving license cannot be produced at the NCT Test Centre, the use of a Public Services Card for identification purposes is permitted.

The recorded identification details allows the Road Safety Authority (RSA) to trace cars for follow-up quality inspections, particularly where there has been a recent change in ownership. In addition, the application of these measures also acts as a deterrent to fraudulent activity in relation to roadworthiness testing. It is important information to help identify and investigate unusual patterns of activity relating to test quality or outcomes where a common thread in such unusual patterns may involve the presenter of the vehicle(s).

Cycling Policy

Questions (1288, 1315)

Catherine Martin

Question:

1288. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has undertaken a review of the national cycling policy framework; and if so, if he will provide a copy of same. [18905/19]

View answer

Catherine Martin

Question:

1315. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the work undertaken to meet objective 4 under the national cycling policy framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19577/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1288 and 1315 together.

As the Deputy may be aware, my Department has committed to undertake a review of public transport policy “to ensure services are sustainable into the future and are meeting the needs of a modern economy”. This is in line with a commitment given in the Programme for a Partnership Government.

This review is a significant and substantial resource commitment and my Department has substantially completed the research and analysis required to inform the proposed period of public consultation which I expect to launch shortly.

The review is premised on the concept of integrated and sustainable transport, in keeping with the objectives of Smarter Travel – A Sustainable Transport Future which formed the overarching policy backdrop to the development of the National Cycling Policy Framework 2009-2020. As part of the overall review therefore, analysis of the National Cycling Policy Framework, its implementation and impact is being conducted and will be published as part of the overall review.

However, in advance of that publication I can state that in relation to Objective 4, the Deputy will be aware of the long-standing Green Schools programme which is funded by my Department and which works with schools in promoting and fostering a cycling culture among young people.

In addition the Deputy will welcome the development of a new national cycle training standard - Cycle Right - which I was delighted to launch in 2017. Since that launch I have been able to increase the funding made available by my Department to the programme which has facilitated an extension of the training programme to more children each year. It is my intention that the programme will continue to increase over the next few years to maximise its coverage among the primary school cohort of children.

The issue of low speeds around school environs is a matter for local authorities, provided for in law and referenced in my Department's "Guidelines for Setting and Managing Speed Limits in Ireland (March 2015)". With regard to safe cycling routes in the vicinity of schools I have substantially increased the amount of funding available to the National Transport Authority to support local authorities in their development of safe cycling infrastructure.

As stated, I expect to initiate a public consultation process in the coming months and I look forward to engaging with the public on this important work.

Cycling Policy

Questions (1289)

Catherine Martin

Question:

1289. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the intercity, suburban rail, future metro, DART, Luas and bus stations thath have been audited to assess existing and potential cycling parking provision since the publication of the national cycling policy framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18906/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure, including cycling infrastructure.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a more detailed reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

Sports Capital Programme

Questions (1290)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1290. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the next round of sports capital grant funding is opening to new applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18953/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The 2018 round of the Sports Capital Programme closed for applications on Friday 19th October last. By that deadline, a record 2,337 applications were submitted seeking a total of €162m in funding.

186 of these applications were for projects that were deemed invalid under the 2017 round of the programme that subsequently submitted corrected documents. These applications were assessed first and approximately €7m in allocations to 170 projects were announced on the 17th January.

Work is now underway in assessing the new 2018 applications and allocations in respect of approx. 635 equipment only applications are expected to be announced shortly. For the first time, applicants who have submitted incorrect documentation under this round are being given the opportunity to correct their application during the assessment period. While there will be no undue delay in completing the assessment process, in view of the opportunity to correct documentation, the record number of applications received and the detailed information contained in each application, it is likely to take a number of months to have all applications assessed. Accordingly, I expect that it may be the third quarter of this year before the full set of allocations under this current round of the programme are announced.

As soon as allocations have been made, my Department will carry out a review of all aspects of the 2018 round of the programme to include any possible improvements for the future. This review will include consideration of the timing and scale of the next round but I fully expect that the SCP will again be open for new applications before the end of this year.

Driver Licences

Questions (1291)

Imelda Munster

Question:

1291. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to introduce changes to the law or regulations regarding driver licences; if he will address the matter of more than 120,000 learner permit holders who obtained their first licence between 1984 and 2016 and have never taken a driver test (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19059/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

My Department has introduced many changes to road traffic legislation over the years to increase safety on our roads, some of which have met with opposition. It has been illegal for a learner driver to drive unaccompanied at any time since 2007 and I recently introduced stricter penalties including giving the Garda Síochána the power to detain vehicles driven by unaccompanied learner drivers.

I am aware that there are a large number of people driving on our roads on their 4th, 5th, 6th or subsequent learner permit. A learner permit is not a licence, but a permit to allow a person to drive while learning. It is perfectly legal for a learner permit holder to drive on our roads as long as they are accompanied by a qualified person.

However, I agree there is a need to eliminate the backlog of long-term learners on our roads and the Road Safety Authority has recently sent proposals to my Department in relation to this issue which are currently being examined by my officials.

Road Traffic Legislation

Questions (1292)

Imelda Munster

Question:

1292. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to regulate push and motorised scooters and other similar vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19060/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Deputy is correct in making a distinction between push scooters and electrically powered scooters, also referred to as escooters. Push scooters are not mechanically propelled vehicles, and I have no plans to regulate them.

Escooters, however, are mechanically propelled vehicles under the terms of road traffic legislation. The Road Traffic Act 1961 defines a mechanically propelled vehicle as a vehicle intended or adapted for propulsion by mechanical means, including a bicycle or tricycle with an attachment for propelling it by mechanical power, whether or not the attachment is being used. It also includes a vehicle the means of propulsion of which is electrical, or partly electrical and partly mechanical.

Escooters fall into this category, and are therefore considered to be mechanically propelled vehicles. Any users of such vehicles in a public place (as defined in the Road Traffic Act 1961) must have insurance, road tax and a driving licence, with penalties under road traffic laws (including fixed charge notices, penalty points, fines and possible seizure of the vehicle) for not being in compliance with these requirements.

As it is currently not possible to tax or insure escooters or electric skateboards, they are not considered suitable for use in a public place.

I have requested the Road Safety Authority to research how escooters and other such vehicles are regulated in other countries, particularly other EU Member States. I am keen to understand the road safety implications of the use of such vehicles on public roads, especially when interacting with other vehicles as well as vulnerable road users.

I will make a decision on whether or not to amend existing legislation when I have received and considered the outcome of the Authority’s research, and not before then. I will need to be satisfied that permitting such vehicles on our roads will not give rise to safety concerns, both for the users themselves and for all other road users including cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

Road Traffic Legislation

Questions (1293)

Seán Haughey

Question:

1293. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if measures will be introduced to prevent users of bicycles, skateboards and motorised scooters from using footpaths; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19099/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Cycling along or across a footpath is already an offence under Section 13 of the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997, as amended, and a cyclist caught doing so by a member of An Garda Síochána faces a fixed charge notice of €60 or on summary conviction in court an offender is liable to a fine of up to €1,000 for a first offence, a fine of up to €2,000 for a second or subsequent offence, and a fine of up to €2,000 with a possible imprisonment for up to 3 months for a third or subsequent offence in any 12 month period.

It is also illegal to use an electric scooter on a footpath and an individual intercepted doing so faces a the same penalty as above, that is, a fixed charge notice of €60, rising to fines of €1000-€2000 if convicted in court.

There is no legislation in place regulating the use of non-electric skateboards and my Department has no plans to introduce any at this time.

Bus Services

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (1294)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

1294. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will investigate with the National Transport Authority if the ongoing review of the Sligo bus network will be open for public consultation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19123/19]

View answer

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 response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Road Network

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (1295)

Michael Lowry

Question:

1295. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will initiate a grant scheme for the provision of cattle underpasses in view of the fact health and safety for all parties affected is of paramount importance. [19130/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The issue of cattle underpasses arises primarily on more heavily trafficked national roads. As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and operation of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy's question to TII for reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

As regards regional and local roads, these roads are the statutory responsibility of each local authority. My Department does not operate a grant programme for the provision of road underpasses.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Road Safety Authority Reports

Questions (1296)

Noel Rock

Question:

1296. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the Road Safety Authority report on electric scooters; when this report is due to be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19167/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I have been informed by the Road Safety Authority that their research on electric scooters will be submitted to me within the next few weeks.

I have asked the Authority to examine how other countries, including other Member States, regulate the use of electric scooters. I note that a number of European and US cities are very concerned that this form of transport is unsafe, with several cities, particularly in Spain, moving to prevent their use without authorisation and mandatory insurance, while France is currently considering requiring users to have an A1 type licence as required for small motorcycles.

Once I have received the Road Safety Authority's report, I will make a decision on whether escooters are suitable or safe to use on Irish roads, and if necessary legislate accordingly.

Rural Transport Services

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (1297)

Robert Troy

Question:

1297. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding a recent presentation to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport (details supplied). [19171/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public passenger transport services nationally. It also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of the Rural Transport Programme which now operates under the Local Link brand.

The regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry is also a matter for the NTA under the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have referred the Deputy's Question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

National Transport Authority Expenditure

Questions (1298)

Kate O'Connell

Question:

1298. Deputy Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the person or body that authorised the use of public funds by the National Transport Authority for its publicity campaign on BusConnects; and the cost of this campaign. [19188/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning, development and promotion of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including BusConnects.

The NTA is a statutory body established by an Act of the Oireachtas, the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008. That Act sets out the statutory objectives and functions of the NTA including a requirement that it secure the provision of public transport infrastructure and services, as well as promoting the development of an integrated transport network. The Act further provides for Exchequer allocations in each financial year to the NTA out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas towards both capital and current expenditure, including administrative expenditure.

The use by the NTA of such voted allocations in the exercise of its functions is a matter for the Board of the NTA in line with this statutory framework.

Wild Atlantic Way Project

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (1299)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

1299. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will investigate with Fáilte Ireland the new plans it has to invest further capital funding in flagship projects along the Wild Atlantic Way in the north west in order to try and increase the numbers of visitors to these areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19196/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Under the Tourism Action Plan 2019-2021 published by my Department, Fáilte Ireland will continue to develop and enhance tourism experiences within the framework of Project Ireland 2040. The aim is to optimise key assets for the benefit of tourism and economic development through increasing regional spread, season extension and promoting sustainable growth management.

Fáilte Ireland progresses and promotes such development around the country in line with the relevant tourism experience brands, which provide the overarching context for related capital investment in tourism product as well as for other programme supports aimed at further enhancing, animating and promoting these brands.

With specific regard to the north-west section of the Wild Atlantic Way, I believe it has very exciting potential to deliver sustainable growth for tourism, resulting in higher revenue and additional jobs. I have asked Fáilte Ireland to respond to the Deputy directly with further detail on specific plans for capital investment in this region. Please contact my private office if you have not received a reply within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Tourist Accommodation

Questions (1300)

James Browne

Question:

1300. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the regulations in place for owners of caravan parks regarding facilities and rent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19391/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Under the Tourist Traffic Acts 1939-2016, Fáilte Ireland has specific powers and functions regarding the registration and grading of tourist accommodation. In accordance with the legislation, certain categories of accommodation, such as caravan and camping parks are statutorily obliged to register with Fáilte Ireland and comply with approved regulations. The Registration and Renewal of Registration Regulations for Caravan and Camping 2009 are the regulations that currently apply to caravan parks. From 1 February, 2020, new regulations will come into effect namely the Short Term Tourist Accommodation Regulations (STTAR). These amalgamated and updated the various regulations in place for different types of self catering accommodation and will include caravan parks.

In addition to the statutory systems, Fáilte Ireland also offers a voluntary quality assurance approval and listing system for other accommodation providers under the Welcome Standard.

It is important to note that these regulations and the Welcome Standard mainly relate to the quality of the product and the level of service provided. Neither my Department nor Fáilte Ireland has any role in relation to rental charges of caravan parks and accordingly this is not covered in the Fáilte Ireland accommodation regulations.

Heavy Goods Vehicle Levy

Questions (1301)

Robert Troy

Question:

1301. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason lorries registered here must pay a toll entering Northern Ireland in view of the fact that lorries registered in Northern Ireland do not have to pay a toll when entering here. [19393/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Road charging systems for HGVs have been introduced in a number of EU Member States under Directive 1999/62/EC, as modified by Directives 2002/38/EC and 2011/76/EU. These Directives set out the legal basis for charging HGVs for the use of road infrastructure and authorise Member States, if they so wish, to levy user charges, which can be time-based, for example per day, week or year, or distance-based, calculated on the number of kilometres driven. Any such charges must apply to all HGVs, both domestic and foreign, using the Member State’s road infrastructure.

The Irish Government raised serious concerns about the introduction in April 2014 of the HGV road user levy in the UK, including Northern Ireland, and lobbied the UK authorities to exempt Northern Ireland from the charge because of the potential impact on cross-Border trade. However, the UK Minister for Transport rejected this proposal and opted to give only very minor exemptions from the levy to Northern Ireland. Subsequently, the Irish Government, supported by the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment, sought an exemption for the A5 from Derry to Monaghan, as it is a significant transit route from North West Donegal to Dublin. This request, however, was also ultimately rejected by the UK authorities. While it is appreciated that the road user levy has imposed significant additional costs on Irish hauliers operating across the region, the application of the levy is a matter for the UK authorities.