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Thursday, 4 Nov 2021

Written Answers Nos. 82-94

Questions Nos. 82 to 86, inclusive, answered orally.

Greenways Provision

Question No. 88 answered orally.

Questions (87)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

87. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide funding for the south Kerry greenway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53433/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The South Kerry Greenway has the potential to become one of the most iconic Greenways in Europe. This Government has given an unprecedented level of support for Active Travel including Greenways, firstly in the Programme for Government and more recently in the National Development Plan. Funding is not a challenge in relation to bringing Active Travel and Greenway projects through to construction. Projects, such as this, that have achieved planning permission are very well placed to attract the funding required.

As Minister for Transport, Minister Ryan has responsibility for overall policy and exchequer funding in relation to Greenways. The planning, design and construction of individual Greenways is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

I should state, at the outset, that this project is still the subject of a live legal challenge and whilst I welcome the recent decision to disallow the Judicial Review, that decision is still subject to further legal appeal.

The requirements of the Public Spending Code will, of course, have to be adhered to in terms of any additional funding for the construction of the South Kerry Greenway. There will also need to be a solution found to the two sections of the Greenway that were not granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála. I understand that Kerry County Council is working on solutions and I am confident they will be found prior to a request for construction funding being submitted.

Any request for future funding for the South Kerry Greenway will be submitted to TII rather than the Department as TII are, since September 20th, the "Approving Authority" for rural Greenways. TII will bring their strong track record of delivery to Greenways and I am confident that they will fully consider all relevant information including the potential benefits that will accrue to County Kerry from this project when considering the application from the local authority.

With regard to this specific Greenway, the views across Dingle Bay, the tunnels and bridges that form part of the route, and the traditional Kerry welcome will all contribute to making a strong business case that stands up to scrutiny. It will also, of course, provide great opportunities for those based locally to cycle and walk to work, to school and for leisure purposes. I would hope that it will transform Cahirciveen in much the same way that Kilmacthomas was transformed by the Waterford Greenway.

Question No. 88 answered orally.

Public Transport

Questions Nos. 90 to 94, inclusive, answered orally.

Questions (89)

Matt Carthy

Question:

89. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Transport the public transport routes that connect parts of County Monaghan to other counties; if any new public transport routes have been provided since July 2021; and if there are proposals for new public transport connections from parts of County Monaghan to other counties. [52455/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Minister for Transport has 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. The NTA also has responsibility for local and rural transport, including the management of Rural Transport Programme (RTP) which operates under the TFI Local Link brand.

Public transport in rural areas of the country is primarily provided by bus and coach services, including Public Service Obligation (PSO) services operated by Bus Éireann and other operators, Bus Éireann Expressway services, TFI Local Link services and licensed services provided by commercial operators.

TFI Local Link services comprise Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) door to door services, open to all, which respond to local demands and increasingly, conventional fixed services with regular routes, stopping places and timetables. While delivery of DRT services remains a cornerstone of Local Link, in recent years, a local demand has been identified by Local Link offices and the NTA for higher frequency scheduled services.

There has been a substantial increase in funding allocated for Local Link services since 2016, going from €12.2 million in 2016 to €28.206m in 2021. The additional funding since 2016 has enabled the introduction of 85 new Rural Regular Service routes, as well as improvements to DRT services and the piloting of evening/night-time services in certain rural areas which have now been mainstreamed. The new Rural Regular Services operate at least five times per day over a 5,6,7 days per week schedule. They are specifically designed to ensure connectivity with other public transport services and better linkage of services between and within towns and villages.

Bus Éireann operates a substantial PSO business under contract with the NTA, providing subvented bus services outside Dublin, and in regional and rural locations throughout the country. Bus Éireann also has a separate, commercially-run business, "Expressway", which operates a number of inter-regional bus routes in competition with other, private, commercial operators in the licensed bus market.

From a Local Link perspective, the 176 service connects Monaghan Town with Cavan town via the villages of Threemilehouse, Newbliss, Clones town, Scotshouse and Ballyhaise. Routes M1 & M2 provide six days per week transport to Monaghan town connecting the villages of Knockatallon, Tydavnet, Scotstown and Ballinode with Monaghan, and Castleblayney, Doohamlet, Ballybay and Ardaghy to Monaghan. Onward travel is facilitated by these services from Monaghan town bus station to the following destinations: Carrickmacross, Dundalk, Drogheda, Dublin, Belfast, Armagh, Derry, Cootehill, Athlone, Galway, Enniskillen and Letterkenny. There were no changes introduced since July 2021.

In addition to the above mentioned Regular Rural Services a number of Demand Responsive Services operate in the area.

In terms of new public transport services, including in County Monaghan, the NTA is developing its Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan to improve mobility in rural areas by providing better connections between villages and towns and by linking these areas with an enhanced regional network connecting cities and regional centres nationwide.

The Connecting Ireland plan is a major national public transport initiative developed by the NTA with the aim of increasing public transport connectivity, particularly for people living outside the major cities and towns. It will significantly increase both the number of routes and the frequency of existing services right across the country.

The Deputy will be pleased to learn that Connecting Ireland proposes to specifically expand the public transport network in rural areas and to increase service levels. Under Connecting Ireland, the NTA is proposing an overall increase of approximately 25% in rural bus services as part of the five year Connecting Ireland plan. Hundreds of rural villages and areas will for the first time be served by a viable public transport link.

Minister Ryan joined the NTA to launch its Connecting Ireland consultation on Friday 29 October 2021. I would urge everyone to review the NTA's proposals for their areas, including County Monaghan, and give their feedback to the NTA to guide the implementation of Connecting Ireland.

Questions Nos. 90 to 94, inclusive, answered orally.
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