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Thursday, 4 Nov 2021

Written Answers Nos. 123-137

Bus Services

Questions (123)

Brian Stanley

Question:

123. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Transport the progress made on the provision of bus shelters in County Laois in particular for Borris-in-Ossory, Castletown, Mountrath, Ballybrittas, Newtown, Crettyard and Ballylinan. [52540/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure, including the provision of bus stops and shelters.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a direct reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

Transport Policy

Questions (124, 228, 229)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

124. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Transport the estimated timeline for the upcoming review of the Galway transport strategy and in particular the promised feasibility study on light rail in Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53425/21]

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Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

228. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport the reason it was decided to have a review of the Galway Transport Strategy less than five years after this 20 year strategy was published; if this will cause delays to projects already in planning or already commenced in the formal planning process; the terms of reference of the new review; when will they be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53823/21]

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Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

229. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport the way the terms of reference of the review of the Galway Transport Study to be commenced in 2022 will incorporate an examination of light rail for Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53824/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 124, 228 and 229 together.

The review of the Galway Transport Strategy will be undertaken next year and will be led by the National Transport Authority (NTA), in co-operation with Galway City Council and Galway County Council.

I believe there is a need to review the Strategy and take stock of developments since its publication in 2016. A feasibility study for light rail in Galway will be carried out as part of the review of the Strategy. This will allow for a multi-modal perspective and integration within an overall land-use plan. It is entirely normal to review and refresh twenty year transport strategies periodically, indeed it is a statutory requirement in the case of the Greater Dublin Area Transport Strategy that it is reviewed every six years and that review has commenced.

The review of the Strategy will include a comprehensive analysis of changes to population projections, development density, employment forecasts and future travel demand patterns since the finalisation of the current Strategy. This analysis will be utilised to reassess the public transport needs across Galway city and the potential role all modes of transport, including light rail, can play in meeting those needs.

I know from meeting many different stakeholders in the region the urgent need to focus on delivering the key elements of the existing Galway Transport Strategy such as BusConnects. A significant amount of planning and design has already taken place which will enable construction activity in the coming years across active travel, bus and rail related projects including BusConnects. I will continue to provide support in that regard with funding and other assistance offered through the NTA. I look forward to the Deputies support as we seek to deliver on this ambition in the years ahead.

Road Projects

Questions (125)

Paul Donnelly

Question:

125. Deputy Paul Donnelly asked the Minister for Transport his views on the N3/M50 upgrade; and if funding will be provided for this important project for commuters in an area (details supplied) and BusConnects. [53712/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), the upgrading, improvement and management of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. This is also subject to the requirements of the Public Spending Code and the necessary statutory approvals. In this context and taking account of available funding, my view is that projects such as the N3 upgrade, with a focus on improving public transport, are important. TII is best placed to advise you on the status of this project.

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.

Electric Vehicles

Questions (126)

Richard Bruton

Question:

126. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Transport the way the penetration of plug-in electric vehicles in vehicle purchases and the roll-out of public chargers have changed in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53623/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Government has put in place several key policies and provided generous incentives to encourage the transition from conventional fossil fuel vehicles towards lower emitting fuels and technologies including electric vehicles (EVs). EVs are a prominent mitigation measure in the Climate Action Plan and Ireland has set an ambitious target of 936,000 EVs on our roads by 2030. This target is very challenging but indicative of the scale of the transformation that is needed across all sectors if Ireland is to reduce national emissions and reach its legally binding emission ceiling in future years.

To date, the Government, has worked to ensure that conditions and policies are in place to support citizens in making greener vehicle choices.

The SEAI grant scheme aims to encourage behavioural change and support the Government’s commitment to achieving a 51% reduction in transport emissions by 2030. The grant schemes are kept under continuous review to ensure that they are as effective as possible in driving the decarbonisation effort.

To date in 2021, almost €65m has been provided in grants to support the purchase of electric cars. By year end, this will represent almost a doubling of supports provided to EVs in 2020.

As a result, the EV percentage of overall car registrations has increased significantly this year and represented over 15% to end Q3 2021, with PHEV registrations representing 7.3% of this and BEV registrations 7.7%. Government is on track as regards the number of vehicles which need to be sold in 2021 to reach its projected annual EV target as set out in the CAP 2019. As of 30 September, there were 45,423 EVs registered in the national fleet.

The Deputy will be aware that the Government is fully committed to supporting a significant expansion and modernisation of the electric vehicle charging network over the coming years. A national charging infrastructure strategy is due for publication early next year which will set out a pathway to stay ahead of demand over the critical period out to 2030.

Preparations are underway to establish an Office of Low Emission Vehicles. This Office will play an important role in our transition to zero emission vehicles. It will co-ordinate measures to support the uptake of EVs and the rollout of charge point infrastructure.

In terms of existing supports for public charging, the Public Charge Point Scheme continues to be available during 2021 to provide local authorities with a grant of up to €5,000 to support the development of on-street public chargers. The primary focus of the scheme is to provide support for the installation of infrastructure which will facilitate owners of electric vehicles, who do not have access to a private parking space, but instead rely on parking their vehicles in public places near their homes to charge their EVs.

In 2021, letters of offer have issued to Louth County Council and Dublin City Council under this scheme to install a total of 29 charge points within their administrative areas. The total value of this is €143,038.

In order to maximise the potential of this scheme, my Department will review and amend the terms of the scheme to ensure it appropriately reflects the needs of the Local Authorities and to boost decarbonisation efforts

In addition, a report was published by the CCMA on the provision of guidance to local authorities on the provision of charging infrastructure. The document is available for viewing online at www.lgma.ie/en/publications/general-publications/local-authority-electrification-of-fleet-and-ev-charging-guidance.pdf

€10 million was committed from the Climate Action Fund to support ESB investment in the charging network and this has leveraged a further €10 million investment from ESB, with the infrastructure to be in place by the end of 2022. This intervention alone will result in:

- 90 additional high power chargers, each capable of charging two vehicles

- 52 additional fast chargers, which may replace existing standard chargers

- 264 replacement standard chargers with more modern technology and with each consisting of two charge points

Further details on the progression of this project can be found at esb.ie/ecars/our-network/network-upgrades.

Electric Vehicles

Questions (127, 226, 227)

Neale Richmond

Question:

127. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Transport his plans to expand access to electric vehicle charging points; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53483/21]

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Alan Dillon

Question:

226. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Transport the status of schemes to promote an increase in charging points for electric vehicles; if further measures can be undertaken to increase uptake on the SEAI on-street public charge point scheme for local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53567/21]

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Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

227. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport the plans he has in place to increase the number of e-car public charging points for Cork city and county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53643/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 127, 226 and 227 together.

The Deputy will be aware that the Government is fully committed to supporting a significant expansion and modernisation of the electric vehicle charging network over the coming years. A national charging infrastructure strategy is due for publication early next year which will set out a pathway to stay ahead of demand over the critical period out to 2030.

I am also aware that a report was published by the CCMA on the provision of guidance to local authorities on the provision of charging infrastructure. The document is available for viewing online at www.lgma.ie/en/publications/general-publications/local-authority-electrification-of-fleet-and-ev-charging-guidance.pdf

Preparations are underway to establish an Office of Low Emission Vehicles. This Office will play an important role in our transition to zero emission vehicles. It will co-ordinate measures to support the uptake of EVs and the rollout of charge point infrastructure.

In terms of existing supports for public charging, the Public Charge Point Scheme continues to be available during 2021 to provide local authorities with a grant of up to €5,000 to support the development of on-street public chargers. The primary focus of the scheme is to provide support for the installation of infrastructure which will facilitate owners of electric vehicles, who do not have access to a private parking space, but instead rely on parking their vehicles in public places near their homes to charge their EVs. My Department has committed to reviewing the Scheme later this year to ensure that it is as effective as possible in driving the decarbonisation effort.

Having an effective and reliable recharging network is essential to enabling drivers to choose electric. Charging at home is the most convenient and cheapest way to recharge. Targeting the installation of smart home chargers is a priority as we look to moving towards more energy efficient and sustainable ways to charge. A grant is available from the SEAI for those individuals seeking to install a home charger. Work is currently being progressed to expand the EV home charger grant to include shared parking in apartment blocks and similar developments. My Department is working closely with the SEAI and expects a scheme for apartments to open in the near future.

There is also a need for a seamless public charging network that will provide for situations or instances where home charging is not possible such as on-street and residential charging, destination charging, and workplace charging.

€10 million was committed from the Climate Action Fund to support ESB investment in the charging network and this has leveraged a further €10 million investment from ESB, with the infrastructure to be in place by the end of 2022. This intervention alone will result in:

- 90 additional high power chargers, each capable of charging two vehicles

- 52 additional fast chargers, which may replace existing standard chargers

- 264 replacement standard chargers with more modern technology and with each consisting of two charge points

Further details on the progression of this project can be found at esb.ie/ecars/our-network/network-upgrades.

My Department is also developing a new scheme which will support the installation of destination charge points in locations such as hotels, visitor centres and parks. This new initiative will help provide another critical link in the overall network for public charging.

Public Transport

Questions (128)

Patrick Costello

Question:

128. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Transport if the use of trains (details supplied) for intercity services will cease given the inadequate luggage space available which makes such journeys unattractive and thus sees a decrease in the use of public transport and a correlating effect in terms of meeting climate change targets. [53241/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations and maintenance of public transport services.

As the issue raised is an operational matter for Iarnród Éireann, I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Flood Risk Management

Questions (129)

Joe Carey

Question:

129. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on his Department’s efforts to implement the recommended solution put forward in the December 2020 multi-agency report which was produced following a number of hearings of the former Joint Oireachtas Committee on Rural and Community Development to address the severe flooding at Ballycar, Newmarket-On-Fergus, County Clare on the Ennis to Limerick rail line which is part of the Western Rail Corridor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53594/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As previously advised to the Deputy, the question relates to a flood relief proposal which is not within the remit of my Department.

The report in question was conducted on foot of a request by the then Joint Oireachtas Committee for Rural and Community Development and prepared by consultants under the auspices of a multi-agency Steering Group comprised of Clare County Council, the Office of Public Works, Geological Survey of Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Iarnród Éireann. A copy of the report was subsequently shared with numerous stakeholders, including my Department.

As the Deputy is aware from previous responses, the works proposed are not works related to the actual railway but instead involve the attenuation of some flows at Rosroe and Finn Loughs along with removal of the underground restriction between the swallow hole and spring and ancillary works. Flood relief works of this type are not a matter for my Department.

Taxi Licences

Questions (130)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

130. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Transport if he will be further extend the ten year rule to give taxi drivers flexibility acknowledging the challenges they still face as a result of the pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53693/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) sector, including vehicle age limits for SPSVs, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013.

In this regard, the Deputy should be aware that the NTA has extended age limits several times since the start of the pandemic, with standard age limits for taxis and hackneys now waived through to the end of 2022, thereby ensuring no operator exits the industry simply because of the need to replace a vehicle.

Road Projects

Questions (131, 135)

Brendan Smith

Question:

131. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport if he will ensure an increase in the financial allocation to local authorities for the non-national road network in 2022; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53587/21]

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Brendan Smith

Question:

135. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport if he will ensure an increase in the financial allocations to Cavan County Council and Monaghan County Council for the 2022 non-national road works programme in view of the urgent need to upgrade a considerable part of this road network in both counties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53588/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 131 and 135 together.

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from Councils' own resources supplemented by State road grants, where applicable.

The Budget 2022 allocation for regional and local roads is €607 million approximately - €46m Current and €561 Capital. This represents an increase of about 9% compared to 2021.

My objective will be to allocate funding to eligible local authorities on as equitable a basis as possible taking the length of the road network and traffic factors into account. The main focus of the grants will continue to be the protection and renewal of the regional and local road network.

Grant allocations for 2022 will be notified to local authorities early next year.

Rail Network

Questions (132)

Duncan Smith

Question:

132. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the request by residents of an estate (details supplied) in relation to the design of the MetroLink project; if he will support the residents in relation to their requests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53216/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure, including MetroLink.

Noting their responsibility in relation to this matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a direct reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

Cycling Facilities

Questions (133)

Denis Naughten

Question:

133. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport the plans he has to improve the standard of urban cycle lanes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53574/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Deputy will acknowledge that the Programme for Government – Our Shared Future sets out an ambitious and wide-ranging set of commitments in relation to active travel, supported by an increased multi-annual budgetary allocation amounting to some €1.8 billion over the lifetime of the Government.

I wish to assure the Deputy that the safety of all road users, particularly those who are most vulnerable such as cyclists and pedestrians, is at the top of my priority list as Minister for Transport.

I would point out that any new cycling infrastructure funded by my Department must be designed in compliance with the guidance and standards set out in the NTA's National Cycle Manual (NCM) which is currently being revised and updated. I expect the revised version of the NCM to be published by Q1 2022.

In tandem, my Department officials have recently convened a new Standards Working Group which is examining the various guidance and standards documents which should be taken into account by local authorities when constructing new walking and cycling infrastructure. These include the NCM, as well as the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS) and Transport Infrastructure Ireland's (TII's) standards. The Working Group will seek to identify any gaps or contradictions between these various guidance documents to ensure that new walking and cycling infrastructure is designed safely and efficiently in order to encourage more people to use Active Travel transport modes over the private car.

Cycling Facilities

Question No. 135 answered with Question No. 131.

Questions (134)

Bríd Smith

Question:

134. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Transport if he has conducted a comparison of the Dublin Bikes scheme and the similar programme in counties Cork, Limerick and Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53670/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to Active Travel and public transport infrastructure. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of the management of public bike schemes. Details regarding the investment in, operation of and expansion of existing and proposed bike schemes fall under the remit of the National Transport Authority (NTA), working in conjunction with the relevant local authorities.

Noting the NTA's responsibilities in the matter, I have referred the Deputy's questions relating to the various bicycle sharing schemes in our cities to the NTA for a more detailed reply . Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Question No. 135 answered with Question No. 131.

Road Projects

Questions (136)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Question:

136. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport if consideration will be given to an extension of a bus route to Carriganvar, Whitechurch and Grenagh, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53206/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the operations of public transport.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public passenger transport services nationally including decisions regarding amendments to bus routes in conjunction with the relevant transport operators

I have, therefore, forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Transport Policy

Questions (137)

Pauline Tully

Question:

137. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which the National Transport Authority has engaged with organisations of persons with disabilities in the creation of their connecting Ireland plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53704/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

It is the National Transport Authority (NTA) which has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public passenger transport services nationally. The NTA also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of the Rural Transport Programme which operates under the TFI Local Link brand. In addition, he NTA has statutory responsibility for promoting the development of an integrated, accessible public transport network.

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

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