I propose to take Questions Nos. 49 and 85 together.
I recognise that there is considerable evidence emerging of increased travel demand across the Dublin region in particular, with growing traffic levels on many of its roads and streets. The welcome increase in employment has impacted on transport, not only through the beginning of a recovery in public transport numbers, but also through increased car usage and the re-emergence of peak period congestion.
In recognition of this growing body of evidence, my Department's economic and financial evaluation unit has undertaken a research project to estimate the cost of congestion in the greater Dublin area. As Deputy Ryan noted, the analysis estimates that the cost of time lost due to congestion in the area is €350 million per annum and is forecast to rise to €2 billion per annum in 2033.
My Department has worked closely with the National Transport Authority, NTA, in recent months to develop an approach to tackling congestion in Dublin. Major road development is not the solution to our congestion issue. Our best option in the short-to-medium term is to focus on sustainable modes. This means increasing public transport usage supplemented by cycling and walking for shorter trips.
I am pleased to inform Members that the NTA will launch an important initiative at the end of May that will seek to transform the bus system in the Dublin region. The core elements of the initiative lie in the transformation of the bus system, but other elements, such as new cycling infrastructure, will help to improve mobility. I did not intend to give Deputy Eamon Ryan this information until he pressed me so hard earlier.
The NTA will progress the early stages of the initiative through public consultation on bus network design, engagement with local authorities concerning bus corridors and a major public consultation on proposals for individual corridors. The implementation of this significant initiative will serve to transition Dublin to a city with a modern, efficient and effective bus system that provides a world-class transport service. This work has been an important consideration in formulating my overall approach to tackling congestion in the short-to-medium term and forms a key part of the case for a step change in public transport investment as part of the mid-term review of the Government's capital plan.
In the time available, I will use the additional information that I have to elaborate further on the initiative. The proposal's aim is to overhaul the entire Dublin bus system and entails a suite of measures to transform the network of bus corridors with segregated cycling, a simpler fare structure, new bus branding, three bus rapid transit routes, a cashless payment system, new bus stops and shelters, a complete redesign of the bus network, a state-of-the-art ticketing system and the use of low-emission vehicles. The next step is the launch of the programme by the end of May, with public consultation on the bus network redesign to begin in early June, a subsequent engagement with local authorities and strategic transport committee chairpersons to agree an approach to consultation on individual bus corridors and a major public consultation later this year giving details of the proposals on the individual corridors, including the bus rapid transit routes. Key outcomes noted will be a transformation of the Dublin bus system, a fast and reliable bus service, journey times on many routes reducing by a third or more thanks to continued bus lanes, connecting more people to more places, a programme that delivers across the region, safe and largely segregated cycling facilities and providing Dublin with a world-class bus transport service.