The Deputy is aware that the draft Limerick Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy has been developed by the National Transport Authority, in collaboration with Limerick City and County Council, Clare County Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).
And let me first of all say I very much welcome the development of transport strategies for the major cities. We need to ensure a holistic, multi-modal approach toward transport planning and provision and, importantly, we need to see finalised transport strategies integrated into relevant land-use plans and acting as a catalyst for the adoption by local authorities of a much more sustainable approach toward the location of housing, employment and other centres of transport demand.
The Deputy knows that I am committed toward increasing the share of persons using sustainable modes of transport – be that on foot, on their bike or on public transport – and I am determined that this Government will deliver a fundamental change in the nature of transport in Ireland as committed to in the Programme for Government.
At the heart of that change will be the development, and, even more importantly the delivery, of a well-planned multi-modal transport network which can facilitate a switch to sustainable mobility for as many people as possible.
I do not believe that many people argue against the need to vastly improve the active travel network in Limerick or to roll-out a BusConnects Limerick for the city and I certainly support both.
Likewise I know there are those that argue that rail could potentially play a bigger role than that envisaged in the draft Strategy and this consultation process allows them make their voices heard in that regard.
I think it important to note that the modal shares referred to in the draft Strategy are not an ambition or a target, but instead are the result of a strategic modelling exercise carried out by the NTA. I expect the share of sustainable modes will increase as infrastructure is delivered, services improved and local authorities develop relevant demand management measures.
I want to see a more sustainable Limerick and I am ready to work with the local authority in ensuring that happens through funding available through my Department’s sustainable mobility investment programme.
I would certainly encourage people to make their views known on this draft Strategy and also their views on the importance of prioritising delivery of active travel and public transport elements of any finalised Strategy as may be adopted by the local authority.