Transport 21: Statements (Resumed).

Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil don Teachta Ó Snodaigh as ucht roinnt nóiméad a thabhairt dom. Tháinig mé isteach chun ceist a chur ar an Aire, ach tá sé imithe anois. Níl fhios agam an fiú an ceist a chur, ach de réir cosúlachta beidh an Aire Stáit sásta an méid atá le rá agam a chur in iúl don Aire.

I wanted to take the opportunity to draw the Minister of State's attention to one aspect of Transport 21, to which the Minister has more or less admitted he is not fully committed, in spite of older absolute commitments by the previous Minister. I refer to the extension of the Luas to the north side of Dublin along what is known as the Broadstone line, from the city to the Liffey Junction. There is an absolute commitment to extend the Luas by 2012 on that old line, which had been derelict for 70 years. There was some uncertainty about this under the then Minister for Transport, Deputy Cullen, who later made it clear that he was committed to it and that it would happen.

Unfortunately, in Dáil replies to me the current Minister stated that a commitment to the strategy as set out in Transport 21 remains, unless independent consultants confirm that there are strong strategic transport and operational arguments that require consideration of an alternative use. Given the Railway Procurement Agency has already started its work to achieve this section of the Luas for the north side of Dublin, and given the fact that the Broadstone line is the only major public transport access route for the €1 billion Grangegorman development of the new DIT campus, I think the Minister needs to be educated on what is required for the regeneration for the north side of Dublin city centre. Providing a Luas along that line into the Grangegorman redevelopment area is absolutely critical. Any talk about other strategic interests is a nonsense. I am incredulous that the Minister would waste public money in employing consultants at enormous expense to look at the possibility of an alternative strategic use for the Broadstone line. Anyone who knows anything about the regeneration and the renewal of the north side of Dublin city centre knows that public transport is absolutely critical.

I listened carefully to the Minister's statement today when he spoke about the different commitments under Transport 21, but he did not mention this one. He did not mention the controversy that is raging outside. The Railway Procurement Agency, which was charged with the project, was not even informed that consultants had been employed to look at a possible alternative strategic use. I hope that the issues raised will be brought to the attention of the Minister and that he replies to them.

I wish to conclude by congratulating the residents of Drumcondra, who achieved the impossible in getting the RPA to realign its route for metro-north away from the most residential part of Drumcondra and into open space. It was a terrific achievement and the residents deserve recognition for it.

Tá mé lán sásta labhairt ar an ábhar seo. I welcome the opportunity to speak on this report on Transport 21. Never before in the history of this State have we had such an ambitious programme for transportation. Spending €34 billion over a ten year period is significant and it will revolutionise transportation modes for every citizen in this country. Most reasonable people acknowledge the significant progress that we have made in road construction. When travelling around the country, it is a pleasure to use bypasses instead of getting stuck in different towns and villages. In my own constituency, the M1 motorway, the N2 and the port tunnel, which I use coming into town from Swords everyday, are marvellous roads. I would personally love to see greater car usage of the port tunnel and I will suggest to the Minister that the charge be reduced to allow a greater use. It will stop congestion in other areas and will significantly reduce CO2.

I had the pleasure two weeks ago of attending the SDLP conference in Armagh. It was great to listen to people up there telling us that the M1 motorway was a fantastic road. When I drove north of the Border I was on a single carriageway. Everybody should recognise these improvements.

For those on the other side of the House who are not good at maths, I will try to break down the €34 billion into simple language.

We will teach the Deputy about maths very shortly.

They have certainly got their facts wrong on the metro-north project. Breaking down €34 billion equates to €9.4 million per day over ten years. I think the Deputy might understand that.

It is difficult to understand how it is being spent.

There will be 175 million extra public transportation users, including 75 million extra suburban rail passengers. The metro system will take us from the city to the airport in 17 minutes, rivalling our counterparts in London and Paris. There will be 80,000 more bus passengers per day, with 169 extra buses coming on stream in the next few years.

That is called pie in the sky. It has not been achieved yet. It is futuristic.

It is not pie in the sky. It is reality.

The Deputy is suffering from post-election stress.

Let us wait and see over the next couple of years. The Luas and the metro will be used by 80 million passengers; some 30 million people are already using the Luas. It proves the point that people use good public transportation systems, and I have no doubt that the metro will be the same. Creating park and ride facilities is an important component of Transport 21. We must endeavour to keep cars from congesting our cities. If park and ride facilities were provided on the outskirts of the city, people would use public transport.

Deputy Broughan spoke about delays in his speech. He is the first person to jump up and down when the public is not consulted, yet it was interesting to listen to Deputy Gregory thanking the Minister and the RPA for listening to the people around Drumcondra——

Fair play to Fagans.

——and for realigning the metro. That is the reason for the metro being a couple of months behind schedule, if it is behind schedule at all. Those who are negative in their criticism should recognise that the Government would be criticised if it did not listen to people via public consultations. At the end of this ten-year period, everyone's quality of life throughout the country will have become significantly better.

Initially, the metro north line was only planned to go to Dublin Airport. I am proud I lobbied for it to be extended to Swords. The metro project will be a vital component to Fingal County Council's plans to increase the population of Swords to 100,000 and make it a city. I congratulate the role played by Fingal County Council management and councillors in bringing the metro project to Swords.

The benefits of the metro will be recognised, particularly with 19 minute travel times between the city and the airport when a similar journey by bus can take up to two hours. When the metro is up and running, it will take 41,000 cars off the road, a major benefit, and carry 34 million passengers annually.

Many criticised the Luas service for its lack of capacity, but it has responded to this. There have been major improvements on most of Dublin Bus services. That is not to say we do not want more improvements. Transport 21 will deliver 170 extra buses and north Dublin, which has the fastest growing local authority area in the country, if not in Europe, needs a significant portion of them. When the Luas, metro and DART extensions are in place, along with extra Dublin Bus services, we will have a magnificent public transport system.

The economic benefit of such a transport system to the greater Dublin region, particularly to north Dublin, will be significant. Many new jobs will be created and services will be established in north Dublin, allowing people to commute to north Dublin rather than the city. I look forward to the RPA making its railway order next year and moving a step closer to getting the tendering process in motion.

I take issue with a Fine Gael Party Senator who has been critical of the metro project. He has decried the metro project in debates in the Seanad and on national television, claiming it should not be constructed.

He has raised the question of its costs.

It is ludicrous to suggest the metro project should not happen.

He is not objecting to it; it is the costs he is questioning.

No one in the north Dublin region does not want a metro. It is badly needed. To have prominent Fine Gael Members claiming the metro project should not happen is ridiculous.

My heart goes out to the Deputy.

To describe it as disingenuous would be an understatement. It is ridiculous to suggest we should tell the price the Minister expects to those companies tendering for the project. As an insurance broker, it would make my job and that of my staff easier if potential clients told us the price we could be up against.

The Deputy's time has expired.

Sadly, the Deputy will not be able to continue ridiculing Fine Gael.

I suggest the Fine Gael Deputies opposite inform their colleague that the people of Dublin city want a metro transport system.

Senator Donohue has rightly questioned the potential costs of the metro project as no one quite knows what it will entail. The metro is necessary for north Dublin as the rest of the country becomes dependent on Dublin Airport, which is another debate.

Will the Deputy muzzle Senator Donohoe and others?

I will pass on the Deputy's comments.

This is the second anniversary of the Taoiseach's announcement to build a world-class transport system for the 21st century on time and in budget. There have been criticisms of many projects of Transport 21, some of which are behind schedule.

I welcomed the launch of Transport 21 as it placed an important and large emphasis on public transport, particularly if we are to reduce our overdependency on the car. Between 1990 and 2005, fossil fuel consumption in the transport sector grew by 150% while energy efficiency in the sector only improved by less than 1%. The transport sector was responsible for 33% of CO2 emissions. When considering carbon taxes, it is an area that must be considered. It is essential we invest in public transport to give people alternative commuting and travelling arrangements, as exemplified by the success of the Luas service. The Luas service is efficient and relatively inexpensive in moving large volumes of people. It needs to be extended to other parts of Dublin.

It is a welcome development that the Cork-Dublin rail route has a train service on the hour, every hour, while the Dublin-Cork route has a train every half hour. Many were sceptical when it was announced. Those involved in it and working in Irish Rail say that it has increased passenger numbers which shows that people will use a quality product that is clean, on time and well run. That is how one attracts customers. Parts of the motorway between Cork and Dublin due to be completed in 2010, have opened, such as the Mitchelstown and Cashel bypasses, and have reduced the journey time from five hours to three and a half or four hours.

There are three options for travel between Cork and Dublin, a flight with Ryanair or Aer Arann, car or rail, all equally attractive but competing. This competition will improve services and hopefully reduce costs for travellers. Transport 21 includes a Cork area strategic plan, CASP, which brings together the city and county councils to develop a plan for the improvement of public transport until 2020. The Department of Transport has accepted the plan. The main investment in the plan will be the Midleton-Cork-Mallow rail route which has been delayed. This is frustrating because the road network is congested. I am disappointed that the project is not advancing at the pace we had hoped for because development of housing stock and businesses in the area hinges on it. Meanwhile, people living in the area must put up with intolerable traffic and congestion.

Green routes form another part of the CASP, serving the city centre from between eight and ten nodes. These will be dedicated bus routes but will also improve pedestrian and cycle access around the city. The concept is good and the Department of Transport has delivered funding but the bus capacity has not increased. People will be attracted to a service that, like the Luas, is on time and efficient. The bus capacity does not exist on those routes, which is a serious defect. In many cases the bus service remains as it was five years ago. People do not use the buses which defeats the purpose of the routes.

The Minister said that Transport 21 will involve 425 new buses, of which 169 are replacements and 256 are additional. Cork will receive 32, also divided between replacement and additional buses. This is not enough. If the ambitious plan of the Minister and Taoiseach is to succeed the infrastructure must be put in place. It is fine to develop green and bus routes but the Minister needs to put the buses on the route, even to the extent of having over capacity to attract commuters. I urge the Minister to consider that because the routes are not as successful as they should or could be.

I am not convinced that Transport 21 is a plan for the sustainable development of transport. The Green Party is concerned that placing 80% of the capital investment over the next several years in roads is not the right way to promote social cohesion, economic success or environmental sustainability. I hope the Minister for Transport will carefully consider his predecessor's plans before accepting them as gospel. The present Minister, Deputy Dempsey, has made excellent comments about the need for sustainable policies. However, we need a change of course.

When Transport 21 was launched I was surprised at its lack of detail compared with the Dublin transportation initiative final report of 14 years ago or many other fine transportation documents. The so-called "slow modes" of transport, cycling and walking were not mentioned. As a land-use planner I noticed too that there was almost no reference to land-use planning which is crucial to transportation.

I am enthusiastic about the references in the programme for Government to multi-criteria analysis on future projects and by the establishment of a national transport regulator and the discussion about joining up land use and transportation, particularly in the greater Dublin area. Greater Dublin is no longer confined to Kildare, Meath and Wicklow but includes Cavan, Laois, Offaly, Carlow and Kilkenny where there is a significant suburban sprawl. Unless the people in these new homes have access to high quality public transport we are creating a mess that will take several generations to sort out.

I have grave concerns about rail transport. We are going backwards in respect of rail freight. While most European countries increase their rail networks to transport freight we are decreasing ours. There was almost a 50% reduction in the volume of freight carried by rail between 2005 and 2006, according to the International Union of Railways, going from 1.8 million tonnes to 970,000 tonnes. That is a crisis for the rail network and we must do something to alter that. The new Minister will consider these issues carefully but we must do a U-turn on rail freight. This comes at a time when our carbon dioxide emissions from the transport sector are up by 160% from 1990 levels and road transport accounts for 96% of these emissions, according to the EPA's report in 2005. I am sure the Minister is well aware of developments with regard to the disconnection of lines at Foynes and the North Wall rail jetty in Dublin and the proposed closure at North Esk in Cork. I am concerned that if we keep stripping this country of its rail freight infrastructure we will soon be beyond the point of no return with no alternative to road haulage.

This is not necessarily the fault of the Minister or his predecessors but the most damning issue is that Irish Rail did not make a submission to the Department of Transport's Statement of Strategy 2008 — 2010. What was Irish Rail doing that precluded it from making a submission suggesting rail had a role to play in the future of transport in Ireland? Many people are aware that Ireland is the only country in Europe where railways are not used after 11.30 p.m., despite the hundreds of millions of euro invested. Cork's freight yard is slated for closure in January 2008 and Irish Rail's regional managers seem to be turning away business as to court business would, apparently, incur disfavour higher in the company. What is going on at Irish Rail? Perhaps this approach can be traced to the negative sentiments expressed by Irish Rail's CEO, John Lynch, under the previous Minister for Transport. It is time to chart a change in course and the first step is to make proper use of the €4 million invested in a high specification container fleet purchased in 2002. Grass is now growing under the wheels of those container wagons at the Limerick depot and something must happen in this regard. The use of demountable units means all key products can be carried in containers and container compatible units and I urge the Minister for Transport, Deputy Noel Dempsey, to examine in detail what can be done in this regard.

I wish to spend a moment on the issue of integrated ticketing because with it in mind I pulled out my old Dublin transport initiative, DTI, final report from 1994. There seems to be a widespread belief that the issue of integrated ticketing has been around for five or ten years but on page 139 of the DTI's final report from 1994 there is mention of integrated fare structure and ticketing. I would like to take the CEOs of Irish Rail, Dublin Bus and the Railway Procurement Agency, RPA, by the scruffs of their necks, kicking and screaming, to London. I would give each of them an Oyster card and a day to see how it works. I would then bring them back, give them six months to implement such a scheme in Dublin and if they did not achieve this I would fire them. It is quite simply outrageous that integrated ticketing has been an issue for 13 years without such a system being put in place. If the jobs of these CEOs depended on delivering an integrated ticketing system in Dublin they would have done so ten years ago. Their jobs do not depend on this so we must drag them, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century — or perhaps into the mid to late 20th century, since which time cities around the world have taken integrated ticketing as asine qua non of a decent public transport system.

Regarding Dublin's bus service, I was glad to hear an Taoiseach express sympathy with the commuters left walking in the rain this morning. Even Deputy Joan Burton admitted to having a bad hair day due to the difficulties in finding a bus this morning. The bus drivers simply want to start their routes at the Harristown depot, rather than the middle of town, and this seems a reasonable request. I am sure the drivers also have unreasonable requests in this matter but I find it reasonable that one should start one's route in the suburbs where commuters are and where many of the bus drivers live. Other elements are also required, however, such as a regulator for Dublin Bus and that is part of the solution.

If I had my way I would sell off the bus depots in Ringsend, Summerhill and Donnybrook and use the capital earned to build decent new garages north, south and west of Dublin — where people live, where drivers live and where people want bus routes to start at 5 a.m., 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. It seems crazy that buses are parked on some of the most valuable land in Dublin much of the time when that land could be put to far better use. We probably do need some residual capacity close to the centre of Dublin but leaving dozens of acres of land covered in buses close to the middle of the city is a mistake. I would retain the facility at Broadstone because, as Deputy Tony Gregory mentioned, we need to reinstall the rail link that was there until the middle of the last century.

We must provide more buses as Dublin Bus has been stuck in a rut with around 1,000 buses operable each year for the past decade. Some improvements have occurred in this regard and I would give the extra buses to the company. If Dublin Bus delivers the right routes that is well and good; if it cannot deliver the right routes perhaps we should allow the private sector its fair share of the market. This is a matter for another day.

There are some fine elements in the programme for Government and in Transport 21 but I want to put it on public record that we cannot meet our climate change targets while spending the vast bulk of capital funding for transport on new roads. A slight change of heart is required and we must run climate change policies across every Department, particularly the Department of Transport. I look forward to a change of heart in transport policies.

It is a little ironic that this debate, which was probably arranged to allow the Government congratulate itself on transport improvements that were promised under Transport 21, is taking place against today's background of no public transport on many of Dublin's streets.

It is almost eight years since the liberalisation of Dublin's bus market was promised and this is still the only solution if we are to have a consumer focused service in the city that gives value for money. I do not know the rights and wrongs of the current dispute at Dublin Bus but I think it is unforgivable that the convenience of a couple of drivers should supersede the interests of passengers who in many cases do not have the well-paid, secure jobs held by the drivers. These passengers must get to work on time in the place they are needed by their customers, not in a place of their choosing. This situation is unforgivable and will continue until the monopoly is broken by competition. This applies to monopolies in every sector, not just the bus market.

As part of Transport 21 we were promised a Dublin transportation authority and that part of its function would be the liberalisation of the market. This promise was watered down by the then Minister for Transport, Deputy Martin Cullen, until the kind of competition he promised was not worthy of the name. I hope the current Minister will right this wrong done in advance of a general election in the interest, I suppose, of ensuring peace with the unions. There is no excuse for this and the issue will go on and on until competition is introduced to all areas of public service.

Transport 21 was welcomed by all as a ten year, multiannual funding programme. However, the welcome was overshadowed by a complete lack of transparency on costings, how timetables were devised, where priorities were accorded and how decisions were made on what should be included. These reservations were not merely Opposition whinging or sour grapes but reflected real concerns relating to the apparent total absence of any robust, independent analysis of the relative benefits of the various projects and how priority was accorded to them.

The planning alone of huge projects such as the interconnector and the metro runs to hundreds of millions of euro and mistakes in such projects can preclude other projects. Such errors have far-reaching implications that go beyond the merely financial.

The Transport 21 document, when it was launched, did not inspire confidence, consisting only of a two-page list of projects and one map. There were more people involved in launching it than there were pages in the document. The real disgrace, however, was the revelation that it would involve the expenditure of €34 billion of taxpayers' money. It was an insult to the taxpayer, who will foot the bill, that there was no information available to the public. It was a matter of further concern, meanwhile, that no further information was available from the Department. It was simply a list and could not be called a proper transport plan.

I have no doubt that much work went into the individual projects, but the list itself has not been subject to alternative project evaluation, cost benefit analysis or any type of financial appraisal. In short, projects were chosen not on a sound financial basis or because they were part of a comprehensive, co-ordinated and integrated transport plan but simply on the strength of their lobbying agency, whether that was the RPA, Dublin Bus, Irish Rail and so on, or because of the activity of a local lobby group in the run up to a general election. Dublin Port tunnel, probably the most expensive project ever and the most useless in terms of value for money, must give us some sense of the dangers of stand-alone projects that are not part of an integrated and co-ordinated transport plan. The dangers of projects going ahead based only on the lobbying of interest groups is that we can end up with the wrong projects, using the wrong mode of transport, on the wrong routes and with the wrong priority.

For the tax paying public, unfortunately, the lack of transparency and accountability means the Government has a blank cheque to spend €34 billion. Given the way the plan is structured, it is impossible for us or anybody else to benchmark spending. The Minister can spend as much as he likes without any public monitoring or formal scrutiny. It is a joke. As I said before, the excuse that costing information cannot be imparted for commercial reasons is unacceptable. The competitive tendering system is devised precisely to produce the best price for the job. It has never before been used to prevent the publication of a budget.

In the case of the proposed metro, we do not even have a ballpark figure to the nearest €1 billion. That is ludicrous. We do not know if anybody can say whether this project represents value for money. We do not know at what price it becomes untenable or unsustainable or whether anybody has even decided at what level that should be set. Is it good value at €2.5 billion, €4 billion, €6 billion or €8 billion? Will we ever know? How many Luas lines could we purchase for the price of a single metro line? Is there any point in asking for some type of public debate even at this late stage? The cost is important, not to mention the cost of the congestion that will be caused in the interim period and during the construction phase.

In any case, any costings or evaluations that may have been done are now redundant because of the passage of time. The metro project is now so far behind that any ballpark figure that may have been offered is irrelevant and we have moved to a completely different ballpark. It is extremely doubtful that the construction of the metro will commence much less finish, within the lifetime of Transport 21. The same applies to many projects throughout the State. The Minister and Taoiseach regularly talk about projects coming in on time. They seem oblivious to the fact that they come in on time simply because the appointed time keeps changing. In recent months, for example, the Department's website revised outwards the timetables of 11 of these major projects. In addition, by keeping costings secret, the Government manages to put forward the spin that projects are also being completed within budget. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Given that almost every public transport project is now running late, there is an absolute necessity to ensure that other capital transport projects are slotted in to take up the slack. If the construction of the metro will not commence until after the ten-year Transport 21 project has expired, the enormous resources earmarked for that project should be used for other transport initiatives. The availability of €34 billion for transport projects in the course of ten years equates to progress. However, €34 billion to be expended over 20 years equates to chaos.

Viable projects must be brought forward. For example, I call for the construction of a Luas line in my own area of Rathfarnham and Knocklyon. There are many projects throughout the State that are ready to commence and could be slotted into the plan. In terms of the roads programme, for instance, the roads that connect the inter-urban routes should be prioritised. That is the way to go if we are serious about regional development. It is no use continuing the orbital routes out from Dublin and leaving it at that.

Our falling competitiveness and faltering economy is due in no short measure to the Government's failure to tackle traffic congestion in the past ten critical years. That congestion has increased the cost of going to work, reduced the volume of business done in any one day, reduced the number of deliveries, pushed up wage demands and impacted hugely on people's quality of life, especially in cities. We still have a chance to rescue the economy if we learn from the mistakes of the past ten years, but only if the political will exists to do so.

It is vital from the perspective of the economy that capital projects, particularly public transport projects, that are productive and sustaining in the way that much of the house building activity in recent years was not, are brought forward to take up the slack and to afford employment to the skilled workers who will be made redundant as a consequence of the slowed housing market. Thus, transport projects are important not only in themselves but are also of benefit to the economy generally. We must proceed with the expenditure of the funding allocated for transport projects, so many of which seem to be falling behind.

I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate. Before I refer specifically to Transport 21, I will respond to some of the points made by Deputy Mitchell. Her reference to a "faltering economy" could not be further from the truth.

Is it not faltering?

The growth in our economy in the past decade has underpinned and afforded us the opportunity to embark on such an ambitious project as Transport 21. Deputy Mitchell referred to delays in several projects before suggesting that we go back to the drawing board and start the process all over again. We cannot go back there.

Historically, we have not had the opportunity to allocate sufficient investment in public transport services and infrastructure. Transport 21 is the first major initiative that encompasses several types of transport, including metro, Luas, roads, Dublin Bus and so on. Members from all sides welcomed this initiative. Transport 21 is a project to which more than €30 billion was allocated and which was to run from 2006 to 2015. There have been time delays on certain projects but the scale of those delays is being exaggerated to an unfair degree.

Transport 21 envisages 175 million additional public transport journeys, including 75 million additional suburban rail journeys. Metro north will allow commuters to travel to the city centre in 17 minutes. The plan will accommodate 80,000 additional bus journeys per day and 80 million Luas and metro journeys per annum. There will be seven new Luas projects.

When will those ambitions be realised?

It is important that everybody grasps the scale of the project. Deputy Mitchell may laugh but there is no doubt that it is happening. The realisation of an ambitious project will always involve issues and difficulties. We must bear in mind that some of the delays that have been mentioned arose as a consequence of people exercising their democratic rights in respect of the planning process. In regard to many of these projects, including some in my area, a public consultation process has commenced and progress is being made. Some projects in my area included in Transport 21 are at the planning stage, others are at public consultation and others still are under construction.

Deputy Cuffe spoke earlier about land use and transportation. It is important to bear in mind that Transport 21 not alone provides transport solutions to existing communities but opens up and affords new areas of development, particularly in my area of Dublin. The Adamstown and Clonburris strategic development zones are examples.

Adamstown is a new area being developed which is serviced by mainline rail and Dublin Bus. A couple of hundred housing units have been built and before any were occupied, the train station was built and operational. That is the way we must go forward. People speak about Transport 21 and what it is providing. Not alone is it serving our existing communities but the plan is for it to serve new communities in future, which I welcome.

My constituency of Dublin Mid-West has the main population centres of Clondalkin and Lucan, and metro west is a very welcome development there. At this stage metro west has gone through the initial public consultation and a preferred route has now been selected. Metro west links Tallaght, Clondalkin, Lucan and Blanchardstown to metro north and out to Dublin Airport and beyond. For people living in Clondalkin and Lucan, the metro is not just about the connection to the airport, far from it.

For too long, we have considered facilities revolving around Dublin city, and this is where some of these projects come into their own. People living in Clondalkin and Lucan use other areas, such as the hospitals and third-level colleges in Blanchardstown and Tallaght and shopping facilities in Liffey Valley, Tallaght and Blanchardstown. It is important that we look in future at where people are travelling to and working. Not all routes should necessarily lead to Dublin city.

Some previous speakers referred to integrated and co-ordinated services as if they are not happening or were not being planned. Going through public consultation and what is happening on the ground, it is precisely what is happening in my area. The metro and Kildare route project integrate at Fonthill, which is the key element of the development in bringing together these services. Park and ride facilities will also be provided.

People have stood up here and stated that there is no integration among services but we are not seeing evidence of this on the ground. The Tallaght Luas line will also integrate with the proposed new metro west. There is a significant level of integration and people are choosing, when contributing here to the debate on Transport 21, to blatantly ignore what is happening on the ground.

I will refer to the M50, which is mentioned almost every day on the news. The Red Cow roundabout, as we formerly knew it, is effectively gone, replaced by a building site for an interchange. The works are causing problems for people living in the area, such as myself, family and friends, along with others who travel through the junction every day. However, we can see improvements. It will certainly not be complete in 2007 but a substantial piece of the Red Cow site will be completed early in 2008, offering significant alleviation at one of the worst bottlenecks this country has seen on a daily basis.

This is not isolated, and I would return to the point of acting in a co-ordinated way. As soon as the Red Cow is finished, the previous junction at Newlands Cross is marked for improvement. The transport projects we are embarking upon are integrated and closely related.

Much has been made of the fact that costings are not available for metro west. I agree with the Ministers arguing against showing its total cost. We cannot give away a competitive advantage by indicating how much money we have. Tendering companies will know the ballpark figures but if we are to be truly competitive, we cannot give the total cost away in advance. We should seek best value for money for the taxpayer.

Others have stated it is Government spin that reports projects are coming in on time and within budget. That is rubbish as the Government does not report this. Such matters have frequently come before the Committee of Public Accounts, which is chaired by a member of the Opposition. In recent years that committee has found transport projects, and particularly road projects, have come in on time and ahead of budget. They are coming in considerably differently in the past three years than they were four, five and six years ago.

It should be acknowledged that this is not Government spin. For people to stand up in this House and state that such spin is just giving the impression that projects are coming in on time is to be untruthful. The reality is the Committee of Public Accounts, chaired by a member of the Opposition, has time and again come to the same conclusions in recent years.

During leaders' questions this morning, people queried if Dublin Bus has extra bus capacity or if it has replacement buses. Last year Dublin Bus got 100 additional buses. Approximately a dozen of these buses are on a route in my area, the 151. To be fair to Dublin Bus, it did something which was novel and a bit of a challenge by running the buses on the quality bus corridors rather than through housing estates. They run from Adamstown to Grangecastle to the city centre and the IFSC, and they are making much better journey times than before. In excess of 25,000 passengers are now using that bus on a weekly basis, a significant number.

As we consider the sprawl outside Dublin city, one area I would see as being slow and weak in development has been park and ride facilities. We have put in QBCs, we have rural buses and the Dublin Bus service, but we do not have adequate park and ride facilities for people coming from ten or 20 miles away, who have to drive right into Dublin city. That is a pity. The Luas service has a park and ride facility at the Red Cow, which is well used. We should provide such services in the short term, although Transport 21 is planned to run for a decade.

I am very glad to have the opportunity to speak in this debate as today saw the first meeting of a new Oireachtas Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security. I welcome the establishment of the committee, of which I am a member. I note in the committee terms of reference that we are to consider the projected energy demand from transport and the implications for energy security and emissions targets, a very worthwhile aim.

The reality is that setting up a committee will not solve the problem we have regarding a fragmentation of responsibility within Government and how Ministers will co-ordinate efforts to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change while ensuring we do not run into deep difficulties relating to future energy requirements.

I will give an example. I tabled a priority question to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources relating to the carbon emissions from transport. That question was transferred, without consultation with me, to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is not responsible for energy but he is responsible for climate change. The Minister for Transport is not responsible for carbon emissions but he is responsible for transport.

It is an unholy mess.

The result of this is I do not get answers to the questions I raise, which I must do as a public representative paid a fairly decent salary to come into the House to scrutinise what the Government is doing.

The issue I raised is serious. This is frustrating but it is not within my power to resolve the problem. I ask the Ceann Comhairle and the Leas-Cheann Comhairle to consider this issue. Today, I found I was ruled out of order in putting down a priority question relating to An Post, being told the Minister had no responsibility for postal services. The question I asked was about policy and it is not good enough for the Ceann Comhairle to throw this back at me on the basis that the Minister has no responsibility in the area. Whatever about the Minister for Health and Children and our complaints about her transferring questions to the HSE, at least she accepts the questions.

About a third of our carbon emissions come from transport so it is a huge issue. It is not something like electricity generation where we can find easy alternatives. It is a major aspect of transport policy. When we debate Transport 21 or any issues relating to transport, we must bear in mind the energy requirements of policies that depend primarily on the use of the car over everything else. Transport 21 had all the hallmarks of the health strategy produced by Deputy Micheál Martin before the 2002 election. It was a wish list and the reply to a question from Deputy Broughan makes clear that the reality is different from the aspirations in the strategy. There are delays in a range of projects and the Minister for Transport has admitted that he has not lived up to all the aspirations. I remember one of the Minister's predecessor's undertaking that the metro would be delivered for the airport within a two or four year time frame.

The Luas lines are still unconnected, a monument to the lack of joined up thinking in Government. Luas is coming to Cherrywood, however, just over the border from Wicklow. Luas in reality is led by developers not by the public good. The community in Bray came together, led by business interests, and fought hard for the Luas extension to Bray, although it was disappointed that the Green Party did not fight the good fight when it had the chance when preparing the programme for Government. Thankfully the extension was agreed in principle by the Government.

We have another battle on our hands. The outer orbital route, which is not in the document but is part and parcel of NRA planning, will extend from Drogheda to Naas, leaving Wicklow and Wexford at a great disadvantage. That is unacceptable. Statistics show the south-east has not kept up economically with many other parts of the country. It is a hidden problem. We must ensure we are in the loop created by the outer orbital road or we will fall far behind. This is a drum I will beat at every opportunity.

People in Wicklow would love to use public transport but it simply does not exist for them. There is a DART line and a rail line from Rosslare but that line is way down the list of priorities for rail development. A railway line runs alongside Avoca village. For very little money, the station could be opened to allow people to commute to Dublin. The train stops in Rathdrum but not in Avoca and people in Avoca constantly demand the re-opening of the station. On Monday night people were petitioning me yet again on the matter. I appreciate Deputy Roche has raised the issue and I hope we can work together on it but it makes no sense that people in Avoca have no option other than travelling to work by car.

One pensioner I know was extremely frustrated by the restrictions put in place by the bus service. A bus to Arklow leaves Avoca at 11 a.m. and returns at 1.45 p.m. This gentleman is very sick and must go on a daily basis to his doctor. He cannot do that within the timeframe and tells me that people are always hitch hiking on the Avoca to Arklow road. That does not make sense and is certainly not a safe alternative for those who need access to their local town.

If there is to be sustainable development, it must be social as well as environmental. At present there is a concentration on flagship projects the Minister or the Taoiseach can open with great fanfare, such as the port tunnel project. Usually these have gobbled up huge resources, gone way over budget and taken longer than planned. Meanwhile improvements that could be made in public transport for a much better return, and for access to it for those on low incomes for much less are not being made. That is one of my major regrets about transport policy. I hope the Minister will consider his failure to live up to his aspirations in this document and reconsider what is important.

I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this discussion on Transport 21 on its second anniversary. It is significant that for the first time in the history of the State, an overall transport plan has been published by the Government for the period 2006 to 2015 embracing public expenditure of in excess of €34 billion.

We have seen dramatic improvements in recent years in our transport infrastructure as a result of our economic growth and the number of vehicles on the roads multiplying. There has been congestion but anyone travelling in recent years will have seen those improvements.

We must prioritise investment in public transport. I am delighted there is now an hourly service on the Dublin to Cork route. In a full calendar year, this will carry more than 3 million passengers, a remarkable achievement, with the public responding to the improved quality of service and the 67 new railway carriages in place on that route.

I also welcome the Government's commitment to carry out a feasibility study for light rail for Cork, particularly in the context of the review of the Cork area strategic plan that is currently under way. The national spatial strategy designates Cork as a gateway city so I hope the study will start in the near future. The major development that will take place in the city over the next decade under the docklands development plan makes investment in a light rail system in Cork a serious consideration.

I acknowledge the planned re-opening of the Cork to Midleton railway line, which will open up a significant area for major commercial and residential development and improve public transport links to Cork city.

Debate adjourned.