Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Questions (979)

Sorca Clarke


979. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the financial support that will be put in place to ensure that the rural bus link services will remain in operation post Covid-19. [9550/20]

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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 securing the provision of public 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 Government has been clear that continued operation of the public transport sector, including Local Link services, is important, and has designated it amongst the essential services that have carried on during the Covid-19 health emergency.  I would like to thank the Local Link Offices, the bus operators and the staff of both in continuing this essential service.

The sharp decline in passenger numbers since mid-March as a result of the Covid-19 emergency has caused an unprecedented fall in fare revenues across all public transport, thus creating a wide gap between operators' costs and actual revenues. This is putting pressure on the existing public service obligation budget (PSO), including for Local Link.

Public transport is an essential service and an important facilitator of the Government's Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business.  I have been clear that we will ensure that PSO is appropriately funded. To that end my Department is working closely with the NTA to quantify the additional PSO funding requirements for the coming months, including for Local Link services, and we are engaging positively with relevant colleagues across Government in that respect.

Question No. 980 answered with Question No. 895.