Driver Licensing Exchange Agreements

Questions (911)

Noel Grealish

Question:

911. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of a driver licence exchange agreement between Ireland and Alberta, Canada; when a bilateral agreement for licence exchange with Alberta is likely to be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44516/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Reaching bilateral agreements on the exchange of foreign driving licences between two countries can take time as the agreements can be made only when the relevant authorities in each jurisdiction have studied and compared the two licensing regimes, so that each side can be satisfied that they are compatible.

The Memorandum of Understanding between Ireland and Alberta, Canada on the reciprocal exchange of driving licences is currently in the final stages of preparation.

Driver Licences

Questions (912)

Noel Grealish

Question:

912. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to increase the upper age limit for bus driver licences beyond 70 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44517/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

There is no upper age limit for obtaining a driving licence for any category of vehicle, including buses, provided that the relevant medical report by a registered medical practitioner accompanies the application.

Greenways Development

Questions (913)

Pat Casey

Question:

913. Deputy Pat Casey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the 2020 greenway application process will be announced; the details of changes to the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44528/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Earlier this year I allocated €40m in 2019 to ten greenways projects across the country. These allocations, combined with existing projects such as the Dublin to Galway project, account for the bulk of the funding over the years 2019 to 2021 and I have no plans at this stage for a funding round for the construction of new greenways in 2020. At the appropriate stage I will consider advertising a new round of the funding for the years beyond that period.

Separately, in Budget 2020 my Department was allocated an additional €4.5m for greenways from the Carbon Tax fund. While this is not sufficient to warrant a round of funding for the construction of new greenways I have asked my officials to consider options in regard to the best use of this funding.

Parking Provision

Questions (914, 915)

John Lahart

Question:

914. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the use by coach companies of the NTA-provided coach park in the vicinity of a location (details supplied) on the quays in Dublin; the reason it closes at 7 p.m. each evening; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44534/19]

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John Lahart

Question:

915. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the cost of the NTA coach parking facility at the quays in Dublin; the number of spaces it contains; the average number of coaches that park there each evening including weekends; the cost of parking; the operating hours from Monday to Sunday; his views on whether it represents value for money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44535/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 914 and 915 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 responsibility for the development and implementation of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area.

In light of the NTA's responsibility in this area, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Bus Éireann Services

Questions (916)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

916. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if Bus Éireann has plans to erect a bus shelter at a location (details supplied) to service the large volume of persons commuting to Dublin daily to work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44642/19]

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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 development and implementation of public transport infrastructure including the provision of bus infrastructure throughout the State.

In light of the NTA's responsibility in this area, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Road Safety

Questions (917)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

917. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will re-evaluate the need for additional capital investment to address safety needs and congestion issues on the N81 in view of the ongoing fatalities on the road; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44663/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

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, construction and management 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 your question to TII for a direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Departmental Programmes

Questions (918)

John Brassil

Question:

918. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the active smarter travel programme; if and when further funding calls will be made by his Department for this funding mechanism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44685/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I understand that the Deputy is referring to two separate, though complementary, programmes that were in operation over the years 2012 to 2016: these were the Active Travel Towns programme and the Smarter Travel Areas programme. While both of these were specific, fixed-term programmes that have now finished, the overall themes that they supported - active travel and smarter travel - of course remain very relevant and are receiving considerable support from Government under a range of present-day programmes.

Funding for active travel generally is made available through the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the Sustainable Urban Transport programme and the Cycling and Walking programme. The Deputy will be aware that Exchequer support for active travel generally has increased significantly in recent years, with Budget 2020 providing approximately €91million for these two programmes as compared to approximately €48million in Budget 2019 for example.

More broadly, I will very shortly launch a public consultation on reviewing sustainable mobility policy. This will look at all aspects of current policy, including active travel. Among the documentation to be published as part of this public consultation period is an Ex-Post Evaluation of the Smarter Travel Areas programme, which contains a number of useful recommendations in terms of future potential policy direction.

I look forward to engaging with the public and all stakeholders as we look to shape the future direction of sustainable mobility policy.

Information and Communications Technology

Questions (919, 920, 921)

Alan Kelly

Question:

919. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of computers in his Department that still use an operating system (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44718/19]

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Alan Kelly

Question:

920. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his Department will not be forced to pay additional premium payments to a company (details supplied) once support for an operating system expires in January 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44734/19]

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Alan Kelly

Question:

921. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to protect his Department in the event of a malware attack or security risks as a result of the failure to upgrade computers from an operating system (details supplied) in his Department and the agencies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44750/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 919 to 921, inclusive, together.

The Department has 150 computers using the Operating System supplied. The Department is currently working on a project to upgrade all computers from the version of the operating system referred to. All patching for the current operating system is maintained to ensure that no security risks arise.

Driver Licences

Questions (922)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

922. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a situation in which a person (details supplied) is without work due to changes to the person's driver licence will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44776/19]

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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.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

Questions (923)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

923. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the review carried out by the National Transport Authority in conjunction with an association (details supplied) relating to accessible buses, specifically single decker buses, in County Waterford and nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44780/19]

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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.

Under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for promoting the development of an integrated, accessible public transport network.

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

Public Transport Review

Questions (924)

John Brady

Question:

924. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the latest south-eastern line capacity study was carried out; if a copy of the report will be provided; his plans for the implementation of the plans contained in the 2011 south-eastern line capacity study; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44798/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). The Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016 to 2035 is the statutory transport strategy for the GDA, development of which was informed by a number of corridor studies, included a South East Corridor Study. The Strategy must be reviewed every six years and it is my understanding the NTA will commence such a review toward the end of next year.

Noting the NTA's responsibilities in the matter raised and their relevance to the Deputy's question generally, 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.

Public Transport Fares

Questions (925)

John Brady

Question:

925. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if consideration has been given to include Wicklow town and Arklow, County Wicklow, in the short hop zone for Leap cards; if not, if such a proposal will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44799/19]

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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 regulation of fares in relation to public passenger transport services. I have, therefore, referred 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.

Road Improvement Schemes

Questions (926)

John Brassil

Question:

926. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when funding will be made available to Kerry County Council to carry out works on the Rathscannel road, R551, Abbeydorney, County Kerry; the plans in place to have the road reopened; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44820/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants. Details of the regional and local road grant allocations and payments to local authorities are outlined in the regional and local road grant booklets which are available in the Oireachtas Library.

Decisions relating to road closures and re-openings on regional and local roads is a matter entirely for the local authority and I have no involvement in that process.

€300,000 was allocated to R556 Dale Road through the Specific Improvement Grant in January 2019. Specifically, this project from Ballinclogher to Rathscannel, aims to improve safety, journey times and the quality of this regional road. Preliminary ground investigation works, approved and managed by the local authority, include the closure of the R556, with local diversions and alternative HGV routes at Abbeydorney and Ballyduff. Other traffic management measures relating to this project, including signage and reduced road speeds, are also managed by Kerry County Council. To date in 2019, Kerry County Council has drawn down over €130,000 for this project.

There are no specific grants allocated to the R551 to which the Deputy refers and upgrades to this road are a matter for the local authority to manage through their own resources and the pavement and rehabilitation grants allocated annually.

Grant allocations for 2020 will be announced early next year.

Taxi Ranks

Questions (927)

Mick Barry

Question:

927. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the measures being taken to ensure that taxi drivers in Cork city are fully consulted regarding facilities and ranks in their area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44830/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Decisions regarding the location and operation of taxi ranks are a matter for the relevant local authority which is responsible for the making of bye-laws in respect of its functional area.

Section 25 of the Taxi Regulation Act, 2013 provides for both the National Transport Authority (NTA) and the Garda Commissioner to be consulted by a local authority when it is proposing to make such bye-laws. I have no function in the matter.

I have therefore referred your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Questions (928)

Mick Barry

Question:

928. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the measures being taken to ensure that taxi drivers in the Cork city area are protected from anti-social behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44831/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I am keenly aware of the importance of protecting the safety of our small public service vehicle (SPSV) drivers. In this regard, there are currently a number of offences for passengers, or intending passengers, set under the Taxi Regulation Act 2013. Furthermore, under SPSV regulations made by the regulator, the National Transport Authority (NTA), a driver may refuse to carry a disorderly or abusive passenger.

Earlier this year, the NTA launched a “Taxi Driver Respect” public awareness campaign advocating respect for taxi drivers. It illustrates how taxi drivers can be anyone – a family member or a friend and, as such, deserve our respect.

While the NTA is the regulator of the SPSV sector, if an incident of a criminal nature is brought to the NTA’s attention, they will refer it to An Garda Síochána. It is An Garda Síochána who investigate offences of this type – not the NTA. Furthermore, as the Deputy is aware, legislation relating to matters of a criminal nature and enforcement against same is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (929)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

929. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of full and part-time staff employed in his Department; the number of such staff being paid at the minimum wage rate of pay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44854/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I wish to inform the Deputy that there are currently 599 staff employed by my Department of whom 89 avail of reduced working hours. There are currently no staff members being paid at the minimum wage rate of pay.

Airport Charges

Questions (930, 961, 962)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

930. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason for the recommendation by the Commission for Aviation Regulation to reduce the passenger levy at Dublin Airport by 20%; the estimated lesser amount would the levy recoup in the period 2020 to 2024 compared to retaining the current level of passenger levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44876/19]

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Michael McGrath

Question:

961. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has considered the implications of reductions in view of the decision of the Commission for Aviation Regulation to reduce airport charges at Dublin Airport from €9.65 to €7.50 per passenger in 2020, with ongoing reductions planned through to 2024 and the impact it could have in a number of areas (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45351/19]

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Michael McGrath

Question:

962. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the fact that the Commission for Aviation Regulation has decided to reduce airport charges significantly at Dublin Airport further to an announcement (details supplied); his further views on whether these savings will be made at the cost of a State owned enterprise which is embarking on a major capital programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45352/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 930, 961 and 962 together.

In accordance with Aviation Regulation Act 2001, as amended, the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) has statutory responsibility for setting maximum airport charges at Dublin airport taking account of national aviation policy. I have no function in setting the level of airport charge.

This independent regulation is intended to serve as a proxy for competition and to require the regulated entity (daa) to do things both in terms of pricing and quality of service provision at Dublin Airport that it would almost certainly not choose to do given a free hand. The overriding strategic objective is to ensure that current and future airport customers are presented with choice, value and quality services which also meet the highest international safety and security standards.

In the Final Determination on the maximum level of airport charges at Dublin Airport,for the period 2020 to 2024 recently announced by CAR, the average price for the period 2020 – 2024 will be €7.87. This represents an 11% reduction in the base-level 2019 price cap of €8.81 and was made following an extended period of stakeholder consultation. The reasons underpinning this Final Determination have been set out in some detail by CAR in the published document.

I understand that CAR has acknowledged the need for Dublin Airport to grow and that capital investment is required in both existing and new capacity generating infrastructure which are key pieces of national infrastructure. The price set by CAR makes provision for all capital projects proposed by the daa – up to €2.3bn of capital investment in the period. The implementation of this investment programme will result in an airport capable of serving 40m passengers per year.

With regard to the airports outside Dublin there are always competitive challenges to be faced not least because of the overlap in catchment areas with Dublin Airport and/or each other. Indeed it is for this reason that only Dublin Airport is considered to have market power that necessitates regulatory intervention to protect the interests of consumers. There is clearly a market to be served by the regional airports generally and I am confident that they will continue to successfully exploit the opportunities and grow services. With the exception of Waterford Airport which has not had scheduled services for some years, both the State-owned and other regional airports have all increased passenger traffic over recent years.