Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (931)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

931. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he is considering proposals to allow limousines used by private hire companies to use bus lanes in the same manner as regular taxis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44892/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I am not currently considering proposals to allow limousines used by private hire companies to use bus lanes. Bus lanes were created - at some expense to the public - to provide on-street priority for bus-based public transport. Their goal is to make bus transport faster and more reliable, thereby encouraging more people to switch from private cars to public transport. This will achieve the twin goals of reducing congestion and reducing pollution.

In addition to buses, bus lanes may also be used by cyclists who, as vulnerable road users, are safer in bus lanes than in general traffic. The lanes may also, of course, be used by the emergency services.

After the lanes were originally introduced it was decided to allow taxis to use them. This was a concession based on the fact that taxis are a form of public transport available for on-street hire, like buses, unlike private hire limousines.

Since bus lanes were first introduced, there have been many requests to allow other classes of traffic to use the lanes. These have included requests on behalf of motorcyclists, multi-occupancy vehicles, electric vehicles, hired limousines, hackneys, and animal ambulances, among others. My predecessors and I have always rejected these requests. Any addition to the categories of vehicle permitted to use the lanes would inevitably reduce their efficiency in performing the original purpose of prioritising bus-based public transport. This would reduce the quality and level of service for the ordinary commuter travelling by bus. In addition, it would not enhance the safety of the cyclists using bus lanes.