Dublin Transport: Motion [Private Members]

I move:

That Dáil Éireann:

recognises:

— that transport and travel trends within the Greater Dublin Area are unsustainable, congestion is increasing, transport emissions are growing, economic competitiveness is suffering and quality of life for commuters and inhabitants is declining;

— the capacity of the Dublin region as a destination for living, visiting and for locating and doing business is being seriously undermined;

— that significant actions are required to increase capacity and usability of public transport, to better manage traffic during peak periods and to reduce the private car share dependence by commuting traffic especially;

— that the population in the Greater Dublin Area is expected to grow by 22 per cent to 1.8 million by 2030 and by 26 per cent to 700,000 in the Mid-East Region alone including Kildare, Meath and Wicklow and increasing investment in rail services including the Dublin Area Rapid Transport (DART) expansion, as well as vital bus services including Bus Rapid Transit, is absolutely essential;

— that this Government lacks a comprehensive vision and strategic plan for how to cope with future public transport demand in the core Dublin City Area as well as the Greater Dublin Area; and

— that the Capital Plan is emblematic of the lack of ambition, vision and forward planning for public transport;

acknowledges:

— that many of the main arterial routes into Dublin, including the M50, either have already reached operational capacity or are expected to reach capacity in the near future;

— the lack of preparation and forward planning for the impact of the Luas Cross City, including the impact of its construction on city trade and mobility;

— the urgent need to increase the numbers and frequency of buses, either public or private, from expanding suburban areas in order to tackle capacity issues, relieve traffic congestion and provide practical choices for commuters;

— that while expanding capacity on our motorway and primary road network is something we need to plan for in the future, recognises that traffic demand policies are essential to relieving congestion as will sustained increases in public transport investment;

— that transport bottlenecks and congestion are increasingly becoming a drag on growth and productivity in our cities as well as hindering wider regional development in large parts of the country;

— that despite the historically low cost of financing to deliver economically and socially critical infrastructure projects, this Government has produced no policy plans for how to mitigate transport infrastructure deficits;

— that now is the time to:

— build critical transport infrastructure like the DART Underground and Metro North;

— make vital improvements such as bus lane completions and removing 'pinch points' for Dublin buses;

— ensure priority signalling at junctions;

— continue to invest in real time passenger information, which will increase capacity and service reliability on public transport, make it easier for commuters to get to work and relieve congestion in our cities; and

— develop park and ride infrastructure in order to facilitate ease of use of various public transport modes;

— that the Government has completely failed to mobilise additional investment in transport infrastructure available under the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), and of the EFSI transactions within the European Union, 6 per cent are in the transport sector, yet in Ireland there has not been a single transport project put forward by the Government to the European Investment Bank (EIB) under the €500 billion funding stream; and

— that the decision to cancel the DART Underground project, described by the National Transport Authority as 'the missing link' in Ireland’s rail infrastructure, was short-sighted and a costly set-back for the liveability of the city, while the only large transport infrastructure contained in the Government’s Capital Plan, 'the optimised Metro North' proposal, could be fundamentally lacking capacity as it was recommended on the basis of reduced employment growth and passenger demand projections in 2013, which are no longer accurate; and

calls on the Government to:

— commit to giving enhanced governance, democratic input and administration of transport in Dublin by enacting section 17 of the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 which provides for the establishment of the Dublin Transport Authority Advisory Council;

— give a firm commitment to significantly increase annual investment in public transport, including funding to Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) companies to improve attractiveness, reliability and integration of public transport;

— establish a new, dedicated Cycle Way Fund for bike-lanes and cycle-friendly infrastructure, Dublin Bike extensions, the rolling out of secure bike lockers and parking throughout the city as well as funding for pedestrianised 'open streets' initiatives to encourage cycling;

— earmark a portion of the Local Government Fund to annual resurfacing, maintenance and quality improvements in bike lanes and road verges to enhance safety for cyclists;

and

— commit, as part of revisions to the Capital Plan, to bolster capital investment levels by securing funding agreements from the EIB and further Public Private Partnerships under the EFSI for critical transport investments like the DART Underground and Metro North.

The context for this motion could not be simpler. Dublin is growing and is going to grow even more in the next 30 years. The greater Dublin area, taking in the commuter counties, is growing exponentially also. Some 70% of workers in Wicklow travel to Dublin for their work and in Kildare the figure is 40%. Dublin is growing and it is leading to traffic congestion that is only going to get worse.

This chronic congestion affects everything from competitiveness to quality of life to carbon emissions. People are trying to get their kids to school, trying to get to work, trying to deliver goods and trying to get to college, and the traffic congestion is clogging up and impeding public transport. As a consequence, economic growth in the greater Dublin area is being held back.

This motion is not just about the capital city. Dublin is the gateway to the rest of the country. When Dublin gets congested, it delays inward traffic and outward traffic, delaying goods, people, commerce and tourism to the rest of the country.

The major infrastructural projects that were intended to solve the growing traffic problems have not only been paused or cancelled in some cases, but we can reasonably say that a child born in Dublin today will not ride a metro to the airport or travel DART underground until they are about to enter post-primary school.

The previous Government cancelled the DART underground project, the missing link as the National Transport Authority, NTA, called it, and then sold off a critical piece of the land associated with delivering the project. The DART underground would link Heuston Station, Connolly Station and the Docklands station. It would open a gateway to the rest of Ireland from Dublin and a gateway to Dublin from the rest of Ireland. Work on metro north and the DART underground will not commence - if it ever does commence - until the middle of the 2020s.

I acknowledge that the Luas cross city is going provide significant additional capacity for commuters. I warmly and enthusiastically welcome it connecting and expanding the existing green and red Luas lines. The impact of Luas cross city on other users of road space in Dublin remains to be seen. In the meantime, we are told by successive Governments that public transport is the way forward. For Dubliners this means buses, according to the Minister. Recently, the NTA has added walking and cycling to this, which is fine and welcome. Along with my colleagues I want to see public transport and other non-private car travel becoming the primary mode by which commuters travel to our city.

The problem is that the Minister has added only 20 buses to the bus fleet serving Dublin in 2017. In the absence of the major infrastructure, which will take years to deliver, the public will have the choice of using buses or private cars, walking or cycling. I acknowledge that Dublin Bus has made huge strides in recent times. I also applaud the NTA and the local authorities for the work done on the provision of quality bus corridors. In spite of the huge progress made over the years in the Dublin Bus service, there are still inconsistencies and large inadequacies in the service in particular areas.

Older people feel that the service neglects them at off-peak times. Digital display timetables often change within seconds leaving passengers stranded. A constituent from a part of my constituency that was once the Minister's constituency emails me regularly in exasperation at full buses passing her by or simply not turning up at the timetabled time. She emailed me last night asking me to include the following words in my contribution: "the urgent need to increase the numbers and frequency of buses, either public or private, from expanding urban areas in order to tackle capacity issues, relieve traffic congestion and provide practical choices for commuters". Ballycullen in my constituency is one such expanding area and Dublin Bus cannot expand the number 15 service to the area because the company does not have the money. In parts of Tallaght the low frequency of buses from 6.30 a.m. to 8 a.m. creates journey times of up to 90 minutes to the city.

The Minister has an awful lot of work to do to convince the public that buses are going to transport them on time every day from where they live to where they work. This is why there must be a democratic input into the decisions that are going to be made. The Minister is expecting people to choose public transport, cycling and walking over the private car in the absence of the infrastructure that was committed to by the previous Fine Gael-led government, in the absence of additional buses and additional routes, in the absence of radical changes that facilitate bus priority on major arteries into and out of the city, in the absence of real safety for cyclists on the main routes into the city, never mind safe places for them to store their bikes, and with only a few joined-up cycle links.

The Minister has stood by while the development of greenways into the city have been postponed. He has shown no ambition for the city bikes scheme, which is now an essential component of public transport, although there has been a huge appetite for years for this scheme in the suburbs of Dublin. How can the Minister expect private car drivers to abandon their cars in the absence of any strategy or investment in these key areas?

The Minister could be investing in the bus fleet, in opening up more routes to tender, and designing regional and localised park and ride facilities for buses. Localised park and ride facilities are going to have to become reality in order to make travel by bus a real option for people who live just that bit too far away from the nearest bus stop or who, worse still, have no regular and efficient bus service. Ten years ago, a Government thought it was prudent to include the provision of a Dublin transport advisory council in legislation establishing the Dublin Transport Authority. Its membership was to include transport experts, the CEOs of the four Dublin local authorities, a senior garda, members of the public and stakeholders such as those with disabilities. Its chair was to be a person with expertise in transport administration, so that it could advise and respond to NTA proposals. Quango it was not. If the Minister is proposing that public transport is the way forward – despite having paused Metro north and probably cancelled the DART underground – then the public, business and every other stakeholder has a right to a say about their bus service and how it can be improved, about what type of cycle ways they want and input into where they ought to be.

The Minister made a name for himself in the Seanad and in the Dáil, representing a good chunk of what is my constituency, as being a champion of the underdog, the shareholder and the toll payer. He possessed a bold, swashbuckling style. As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, however, he has seemed uninterested, lacking in motivation and desire to make a difference and certainly lacking in any vision, passion or dynamism to create solutions to the problems that face us. During Question Time today, the Minister said we do not have the capital. He needs to fight for capital. He needs to fight as hard for funding for the big projects this city needs as he is fighting for Stepaside Garda station. Others have identified that this funding is undoubtedly out there. The Minister needs to articulate a vision for the future of transport in Dublin.

I am sharing time with Deputies Jack Chambers and Darragh O'Brien. I have brought the increased traffic congestion we are facing daily to the Minister's attention by means of Topical Issue debates and numerous parliamentary questions. This issue is particularly urgent in the western part of Dublin. It does not just affect economic development and activity; it also impacts on our future housing needs. We have a strategic development zone that is half built at Adamstown, and a second one in planning at Clonburris. Transport infrastructure is delivered not only to ease the congestion of today but to provide the growth we need for the coming years. The Minister is well aware that a very significant rate of increase is predicted for the population of the greater Dublin area over the next couple of decades. We must plan, forecast and build our infrastructure to deal with that longer term issue.

In that regard, I have some concerns. When I compare the projected figures that Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, uses with those used by South Dublin County Council, there are some divergences. If they cannot agree now on projected growth, the delivery of transport in the future may not meet requirements. While TII reckons that the population in South Dublin County Council's administrative area will grow by 10% by 2030, South Dublin County Council reckons it will grow by 19%. In terms of jobs, TII suggests a 20% increase while South Dublin County Council is looking at something like 39%. Those variances matter. The transport we plan has to be future-proofed. The traffic on the M50 between the junctions with the N4 and the N7 is now at the level predicted for 2023; hence the urgency of the problem. This is not coming down the tracks at us; we are facing and meeting the problem today.

I have asked the Minister many questions and he has said he would make a submission which, at this point, he has made, on the public transport review. I am very critical of one point. I have asked him time and again to conduct a public transport policy review in advance of the mid-term capital review. He has answered time and again that it is coming up. One of his more recent replies on the matter stated that the submission deadline for the mid-term review of the capital plan did not allow for the completion of the significant body of work and consultation required to undertake a comprehensive review of public transport policy. The reason it did not is that the Minister did not start the review in time. I am concerned that the capital review that is going on currently will not have the evidence that a public transport policy review would have provided. I am disappointed in that regard, and the blame lies fully at the Minister's door. Matters are now out of date, in the sense that we will do a public transport policy review with no option and no additional funding in the future.

My colleagues have mentioned a number of issues. We talked about Metro north. Metro west has been taken off the map. It was an orbital route for which South Dublin County Council had made significant provision through land banking and so forth. The greater Dublin transport plan 2016-35 excludes the possibility completely until after 2035. I acknowledge that the plan was made when funding was not available. However, it did not look forward to the needs of a growing capital city. An orbital route to link up Tallaght, Clondalkin, Lucan, Blanchardstown and on out to the Metro north route is simply gone with no alternative. People from the western part of the city feel strongly that we need orbital routes. I welcome the acknowledgement in the greater Dublin transport plan that there will be an extension of the Luas line to Lucan. Again, the problem is that it is an immediate issue yet there is no prospect of funding until sometime after 2021. That certainly is a concern.

I also want to talk about buses. The Minister has stated on numerous occasions that a bus-based solution will be used to deal with the issue in the short term. I have asked him how many buses we will get and he has usually referred me to the National Transport Authority, NTA. I find it contradictory that although he is the Minister responsible, the NTA is going to tell us how many buses. Surely to God, in advance of the budget, the additional capacity should have been determined and that should have been the objective of the budget negotiations. On budget day, the Minister announced that there would be 110 additional buses. It took me months to find out from the NTA how many of those were replacements and how many were additional; it turned out 20 were additional. The Minister has talked about the role Dublin Bus will play in the coming years. I have asked him in a series of written questions how many additional buses there will be. What is the demand for additional buses to meet public transport needs in the greater Dublin area? The Minister has not answered. He has said it will depend on what is available. That is not dealing with transport. It is saying that whatever money the Minister gets on budget day is what will deliver buses. That is not how to do it. The right way is to calculate the demand and look for the allocation to meet it. If that is not done, we will fall behind time and again.

I asked about park and ride facilities for traffic coming in to Dublin from west of the M50, perhaps on the N7 towards Rathcoole or the N4 towards the Spa Hotel. The Minister, of course, passed me back to the National Transport Authority. It responded that it is assessing a number of bus-based park and ride locations and expects to make a determination on whether to proceed with them in the coming months. However, it also stated that the delivery of those facilities will also be contingent on funding being available and that the NTA awaits the outcome of the Government's capital plan review. That is backwards. Those facilities should have been the subject of a specific submission, rather than waiting to see what comes from the capital plan. Every reply I get is like this. The detail needed to meet current demand is not being given.

I welcome the motion proposed by our Dublin spokesperson, Deputy John Lahart. The public transport system in Dublin is at breaking point and is creaking at the seams. There is no question about that. Deputy Curran mentioned buses. There is no provision for multi-annual funding, meaning that Dublin Bus cannot plan its routes.

Deputy Curran mentioned, rightly, how we have to wait until budget day to see how many buses are going to be purchased. That is absolutely ridiculous.

A total of 1.8 million people will live in the greater Dublin area by 2030. That is 13 years away. The more I look at the announcements by the Department, the more I am amazed. Let us consider the cancellations by the previous Government. I will not lay all the blame specifically at the door of the current Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, because that would be unfair. However, the Minister is suffering from the severe lack of ambition shown by his Fine Gael and Labour Party colleagues in the last Government. They slashed capital expenditure when they should have been spending and investing in metro north and DART underground. That was at a time when we would have got good value for money. Now, there are problems in Connolly Station following the opening of the Phoenix Park tunnel, although it was heralded and is good for commuters in that area. Anyway, people cannot get through Connolly Station. The northern rail commuter line and the DART line on the north side of the city and county are absolutely at capacity. Without the DART interconnector we cannot increase capacity within the city.

We need a government that has direction, leadership and ambition because we are living in the 21st century with an early 20th century public transport system. Ambition, leadership and direction was shown to deliver Terminal 2, a motorway network and Luas. However, all we have seen in the past seven years is Luas cross-city. In itself, that is welcome but what about the growing areas in the greater Dublin area? What about towns like Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush, Lusk, Donabate, Malahide, Portmarnock and every place along the northern line where commuters have to shove themselves onto the trains? I am one of those commuters.

The biggest problem arises when we see population growth rates. Let us consider the census figures of 2016 and the associated projections. There is no increased capacity. Instead, we see reports by successive Ministers, such as the second capital review. The former Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Donohoe, carried out a capital review. The Minister, Deputy Ross, is now undertaking a capital review. The great thing about capital reviews is that Ministers need do nothing else bar review them. The Minister need only get his officials to go out and get more reports carried out, although we know what needs to be done.

Metro north was ready to go, but we sent €600 million back to the European Investment Bank. We should have started the work. The route was selected. The land was available and purchased. The railway procurement order was in place. What did the Fine Gael and Labour Party Government do? It went back to the drawing board. A new route is required along with new planning permission and a new railway procurement order. What did the Government say? Those responsible said they would deliver it by 2027. I do not believe that.

What we need is something that will pull all this together. That is why this motion is welcome. I urge the Minister to make a start on this, because commuters in Dublin and the greater Dublin area deserve far better than what they are getting from this Government and from the previous Government.

I thank my colleague, Deputy Lahart, for raising an important motion. The net point from what my colleagues have said is that we need a vision and a plan. We cannot keep hearing the excuses about reviews and the long term from the Department in respect of what the Minister is planning to do.

Generally, we need to look at Dublin as it is growing. We are seeing vast urban sprawl. Dublin, as a city and county, will become a county of Leinster. Effectively, Leinster is sprawling to the extent that Dublin will encompass its whole environs. That is a big problem.

We need to look at our local authorities. In particular, Dublin City Council needs to examine increased intensity of development within the context of Dublin city, such that development is not all about a concentric building of transport infrastructure outside the city. Within the city at present we need to meet the infrastructural deficit for the people living in suburban areas who have no infrastructure to get to work or to commute.

This is a crisis around quality of life and the transport deficit. Moreover, the cost of getting to work is excessive. Cycling has been a major failure in recent years. People who want to cycle and embrace healthy living are left with poorly-planned cycle lanes and are left to compete against the biggest road users, that is, the buses. That is a major failure of planning. We need to utilise our canal network to extend cycle lanes to all suburban areas. It would not involve a major cost.

We also need to examine the commuter line in my constituency of Dublin West. I am referring to the Maynooth line. Commuters are like sardines in the morning. Irish Rail, the Department and whoever is responsible have failed to provide extra carriages at increased frequency despite a population equivalent to that of any city relative to Dublin. In my area, people cannot get to work without being in complete congestion or moving in conditions that are beyond humane.

We need to look at costs and the infrastructural kick-back that has to occur in the context of improving public finances. Moreover, the Minister needs to work with his Government colleagues, including Deputy Coveney, if he is still in his current Department, to examine the planning infrastructure in Dublin. It is not all about building concentric transport patterns within Leinster; it is about how we can have greater intensity of development within the city itself. It should not all be about massive capital plans. We need to deliver for those who have no transport because there is a deficit and it is affecting their ability to live and work within the city boundary.

I move amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:

“recognises that:

— there is clear and compelling evidence of increasing levels of traffic congestion across the Dublin Region;

— congestion is already presenting a significant cost to the economy of the Dublin Region and, if unaddressed, could adversely affect the competitiveness of the region and the health, well-being and quality of life of its commuters and inhabitants;

— major road development is not the solution to congestion issues in Dublin; and

— the core elements of the solution to congestion in the Dublin Region in the short to medium term lie, among other things, in an efficient public transport system, including a transformation of the bus system, alongside park and ride provision;

acknowledges:

— the important role of the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) Transport Strategy 2016-2035, which was adopted last year and which sets out a clear vision for transport planning in the Dublin Region;

— that there is already a significant number of projects and initiatives being implemented to improve the capacity and effectiveness of the public transport system in the Dublin Region, including Luas Cross City, which will be delivered this year, and other transformational rail projects such as the new Metro North, the DART Underground and the wider DART Expansion Programme that are being progressed;

— the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government that the €3.6 billion investment in the public transport system, provided for in the Capital Plan, will uphold the principles of Smarter Travel;

— the important role of the Capital Plan and the Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport in setting out a vision for public transport at national level; and

— the importance of a forthcoming National Transport Authority (NTA) initiative that will seek to transform the bus system in the Dublin Region; and

calls on the Government to:

— commit, while taking cognisance of the overall Budgetary parameters, to achieving a modern, efficient and effective public transport system for the GDA; and

— request that the NTA continue to pursue strategies for alleviation of congestion in the GDA, including the implementation of a proposed transformation of the bus system in Dublin.”

Let me start by saying that I welcome this debate. For many Deputies it is somewhat Dublin-centric, but it is nonetheless very important because the greatest problems of traffic and congestion in this country lie in Dublin. No one is going to run away from the fact that we have a problem there.

The only issue I have with Fianna Fáil is in respect of what we do about it, as well as some of the statements made by those in that party about the lack of ambition of the Government and the condemnation of our output. Apart from that, I think we are probably on the same sheet. I look forward to all Members who have spoken so eloquently making submissions to the many public consultations that we have held and that we will continue to hold on the issues they have raised. I say as much in all sincerity because it is important that the Opposition, especially at this time of partnership Government and the agreement we have, co-operates in this area for the good of the people of Dublin, who certainly have suffered in recent years because of the congestion of traffic. We are going to address this.

There are elements of common ground between the Government's views and the Fianna Fáil motion. I share the view that congestion, if unaddressed, can adversely impact on the health, well-being and quality of life for commuters and inhabitants. I agree that, if unrestrained, congestion could affect the overall competitiveness of the Dublin region. Most important, I am strongly in favour of a solution with public transport at its core. Let there be no doubt about it: we recognise this problem. We recognise that it is our problem and we recognise that it must be addressed urgently.

We have all heard the anecdotes of growing congestion in Dublin. These anecdotes are borne out by compelling evidence that everyday journeys of people are becoming more and more difficult. In recognition of this, my Department and the National Transport Authority have undertaken work to provide an evidence base to address travel demand growth in the Dublin region.

The motion calls on Government to improve the attractiveness, reliability and integration of public transport. That is perfectly reasonable. The Government is committed to a well-funded public transport system that achieves these objectives. The capital plan allocation of €3.6 billion will enable several major public transport projects to proceed and to fund additional capacity to meet existing and future commuter needs, including Luas cross-city and metro north. Of course, I have made a strong case for increased public transport investment as part of the mid-term review of the capital plan.

Notwithstanding our common ground, there are elements of the Fianna Fáil motion that Government simply cannot support. That is why, on behalf of the Government, I have proposed amendment No. 1. The Fianna Fáil motion states that Government lacks vision and a plan to cope with future public transport demand in Dublin city and the wider region. It also refers to a lack of ambition in the capital plan for public transport. I hope to be able to answer those particular criticisms in the weeks ahead. These assertions do not consider the substantial provision made in the capital plan for public transport projects, including Luas cross-city – a project welcomed by Deputy Lahart. I do not want to claim the credit for it but it is coming.

Something for the north side would be good.

Other projects include metro north, elements of the DART expansion programme, bus, bus rapid transit, heavy rail, light rail and sustainable transport programmes. These projects will all add capacity to our transport system.

Luas cross-city is coming now, this year, and Deputy O'Brien knows that. The motion assumes no forward planning for public transport. It fails to acknowledge the NTA transport strategy for the greater Dublin area, which sets out a clear vision for transport planning in the greater Dublin area for the period 2016-35.

Furthermore, the NTA has been actively developing specific proposals to tackle congestion. As a result, an important initiative which proposes a radical transformation of the bus system in Dublin will be launched to the public by the NTA at the end of this month. That is why today’s discussion is so timely.

I recognise that establishing an advisory council for the NTA as proposed in the motion is possible under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008. However, as the NTA is a national body, I do not believe that the structure of the proposed council, which was originally conceived as a body for the greater Dublin area, is appropriate for the expanded national remit of the NTA. I must also clarify that the DART underground project has not been cancelled.

Funding has been provided in the capital plan for the redesign and planning of the tunnel-----

Go away out of that.

-----as well as the extension of the DART to Balbriggan.

We are not going to see the opening of it.

The DART expansion programme, including the underground element, is a key part of the NTA's transport strategy.

Are you serious, Shane?

The NTA and Irish Rail are currently working to progress the pre-planning stage of the DART expansion programme, which is not something I would countenance if the underground element had been cancelled.

Finally, there is the issue of funding. It should not be a case, as proposed in the motion, of simply committing as part of the mid-term review of the capital plan to further public private partnerships and securing funding agreements from the European Investment Bank without any consideration for the long-term implications. We must take a strategic view on the extent to which PPPs can play a useful role in delivering additional infrastructure without severely constraining future capital budgets. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Donohoe, has established a senior level group to assess the affordability, sustainability and value for money of PPP procurement. Let us consider the recommendations of the group before making any decisions that could reduce the funding available for transport investment in the future.

As Deputies know, congestion is already presenting a significant cost to the economy in the Dublin region. My Department's economic and financial evaluation unit estimates the cost of congestion is currently approximately €352 million per annum. This is forecast to rise to €2 billion per annum by 2033. Looking at transport patterns and levels of transport usage in recent years, it is easy to see why this is the case. Towards the end of 2013 and the start of 2014, the welcome increase in employment manifested itself in growth in the numbers of people using public transport but also through increased car use and peak period congestion. During 2014, users of the M50 began to experience significant increases in journey time for the first time since the M50 upgrade was completed. In terms of traffic flows, average daily traffic at the tolling point on the motorway was almost 18% higher in 2016 than in 2014. M50 users are experiencing slower speeds and longer journey times. Elsewhere there is evidence of a substantial degree of congestion at many locations on the road network approaching the city centre.

As I mentioned, there are projects under way that will go some way to adding capacity to our transport system. Luas cross city, which is due to commence operations before the end of this year, will provide for an estimated 10 million additional passenger journeys per annum. The recently completed Phoenix Park tunnel, additional bus fleet and bus lane infrastructure, and small-scale interventions on the M50 will go some way, although not the whole way, to addressing travel demand in the Dublin region. Approximately €800 million is allocated over the lifetime of the capital plan for bus measures covering Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann PSO fleets, bus infrastructure in the Dublin region and regional cities and bus rapid transit programmes in the Dublin region.

Therefore, what is the answer to our congestion problem?

A Deputy

Make a few decisions.

It certainly does not lie in major road development. While the large-scale projects set out in the NTA's transport strategy are a vital piece of the overall solution in the long term, we need to deliver improvements now. We have a sense of urgency about this. Despite what Deputies say, we do have a vision. Congestion is not confined to a single corridor and it cannot be solved by focusing on just one or two corridors. It needs an approach that addresses the whole region. The bus network is undeniably the cornerstone of the public transport system. I believe a priority in tackling congestion in the Dublin region in the short to medium term is to improve the bus system radically.

As I stated in reply to a question this afternoon, I am pleased to inform the House that the NTA will be launching an important initiative at the end of this month that will transform the bus system in the Dublin region. The transformation of the bus network will involve a package of measures, namely, a network of so-called next generation bus corridors with segregated cycling facilities; three bus rapid transit routes; a complete redesign of the network; simpler fare structures; implementing a cashless payment system and a state-of-the-art ticketing system; implementing new bus branding; integrating bus vehicles of different operators and types; new bus stops and shelters; and use of low emission vehicles.

Cycling infrastructure is an important part of the package but the core elements of the response lie in the transformation of the bus system alongside park and ride provisions.

The Minister will need to conclude there because we are out of time.

It is all right. We have heard it all before.

It is depressing.

May I finish this paragraph?

The NTA will progress the early stages of the initiative through public consultation on bus network redesign, engagement with local authorities on individual corridors and a major public consultation for individual corridors. I will be urging members of the public and members of Fianna Fáil to get involved in the consultation process.

An advisory council.

After all, this is their public transport system and the needs of the travelling public must be at the heart of what we do.

Thank you, Minister. I call Deputy Imelda Munster, who is sharing with her colleagues.

We agree with the sentiment behind Fianna Fáil's motion but feel it needs a considerable amount of strengthening. Therefore, our amendment includes some of what Fianna Fáil proposed in its motion but with additional measures, such as recognising the importance of keeping public transport in public ownership, ensuring all transport services are accessible to people with disabilities, giving CIE companies the space to plan ahead to cope with capacity changes, and several other measures.

The Fianna Fáil motion outlines many problems with transport in Dublin, which I think are universally acknowledged, but it is effectively asking for very little. One of the biggest problems with this motion is that it does not contain any timelines for the commencement or completion of projects or measures mentioned in it. It is clear that we need timeframes when it comes to practical issues such as traffic management in our capital city. Our amendment contains a clause calling on the Government to implement timelines for the measures contained in the motion.

We all know that planning matters in this State historically have been disastrous. No one knows this more than Fianna Fáil which was in power when much of the corrupt planning took place.

Now look it-----

We have had several lengthy tribunals detailing that particular horror show.

There was no waterboarding going on.

This has affected planning matters and, therefore, transport management hugely. We continue to suffer to this day as a result of poor planning. There has been a lack of joined-up thinking to ensure developments are correctly catered for, areas which are experiencing growth in population have sufficient transport links and road and rail infrastructure is properly planned to cater for the needs of people in the locality. Over the past decade we suffered a huge setback when Fianna Fáil's economics led to the bankruptcy of the State. A large number of planned projects had to be shelved, postponed or curtailed. We got away with this for some time when unemployment in Dublin plummeted and there were fewer commuters, but now we are reaping what was sowed.

As the Fianna Fáil motion details, the city suffers from dreadful congestion at peak times, the M50 and many rail routes are at capacity and we lack sufficient infrastructure to cater for buses, cyclists and other modes of transport that involve leaving the car at home. These measures are vital both from a traffic management point of view and to achieve our emissions targets for 2020, which the Environmental Protection Agency has said will not happen under the current range of policy measures. We have included measures regarding park and ride facilities to link in with existing infrastructural projects and areas to keep bicycles to facilitate commuters in order that they can use public transport easily and efficiently.

This is not only a problem in Dublin. Our cities are suffering as a result of this legacy too. Galway has been mentioned in the media as being one of the worst cities suffering congestion.

Of course, the west has essentially been ignored when it comes to development, so this should come as no surprise. Cork and other cities and towns such as Drogheda also suffer from this problem of congestion. The movement of goods is also affected, further damaging industry. This is why we propose in our amendment to have regional advisory authorities, rather than only one authority for the greater Dublin area. This might be especially helpful as we prepare the national planning framework.

Our amendment also calls on the Government to protect CIE companies. We all know what these companies have gone through in the past few years. We also know that the NTA is putting 10% of bus routes out to tender. Protecting the national carriers is vitally important. The motion outlines the crucial role public transport will play, particularly in Dublin city, if we are to manage our growing population and transport needs into the future.

Sinn Féin would like to see future infrastructural projects being owned and run by the State. The State should be willing to invest in these projects, with support from EU funding sources. The State should retain ownership and control over these assets to ensure we enjoy a high-quality service that meets the needs of the people they serve and not merely business interests.

I am happy to see that the Luas cross-city project is due to be completed by the end of the year. It will certainly come as a relief to the people of Dublin and to transport carriers and businesses that have been inconvenienced by the building works. However, this project is yet another example of the lack of forward planning. We are playing catch-up. Projects such as metro north, Luas cross-city and the outer orbital route are coming decades too late. We need to grab the bull by the horns now and prioritise these projects to ensure that our citizens have excellent transport links, allowing business, trade and tourism to grow in the coming decades.

Current transport trends within the greater Dublin area are unsustainable. Congestion is increasing, transport emissions are growing, economic competitiveness is suffering and the quality of life for commuters and inhabitants is declining. To rent a house stretches most people financially and to own a house is beyond the means of most people. On top of this, we are spending more and more time commuting, especially from the outskirts of Dublin. Dublin is a city under severe pressure with no sign of a let-up. It is also evident that this situation will adversely affect any new business looking to set up here, especially in the wake of Brexit. This is a direct result of the lack of foresight of this Government and previous Fianna Fáil Governments. It highlights the lack of joined-up thinking when it comes to transport, especially when the capacity of the Dublin region as a destination for living, visiting, locating to and doing business is being seriously undermined.

There is another threat to the development of the city that is probably the most significant. This threat to the public transport service is the privatisation agenda being driven by the Government and previously by its Fianna Fáil colleagues who put the process in train. Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and the rail network should be retained in public ownership to allow the people of this country to benefit from increased and enhanced transport infrastructure over the coming years.

Our amendment to this Private Members' motion aims to kick-start the process of planning a city that will match and exceed the projected rise in population in the greater Dublin area, which is expected to grow by 22% to 1.8 million by 2030 and by 26% to 700,000 in the mid-east region alone, including Kildare, Meath and Wicklow. Now is the time to start this process and fast-track the many plans for an increase in infrastructure to provide for the future. Projects such as DART underground, which was put on hold, and metro north should be reintroduced. The consultation for metro north is supposed to start at the end of this year. It should be brought forward. In addition, the Dublin outer orbital route, which was kicked down the road to 2035, should be seriously reconsidered.

In Dublin north west, two major projects would increase capacity: the metro north through Ballymun and the extension of the Luas to Finglas. I also contend that these two lines should be joined up in the future. The benefits for Dublin, our national airport and the surrounding areas are obvious. Thousands of cars will essentially be removed from the roads, improving the environment of Dublin city. Jobs will also be created both during and after construction. The situation we face is we either build the capacity now or will suffer in the future. It is imperative that the Government commitments to these services be fully implemented. The alternative of an increased population and underdeveloped transport infrastructure will strangle the city both socially and economically.

The Minister mentioned the three bus rapid transit routes, which the NTA is considering again, but I hope it will not be at the expense of many areas served by buses. If we mainstream many of these areas and confine things to a few main routes, which seems to be the plan, many areas will be affected, so we need to watch that space very carefully.

I wish to use the few moments I have to speak in support of the Sinn Féin amendment, particularly the call to extend metro north to Balbriggan. This is not just to alleviate the hardship of commuters, of whom I am one - the trains are rammed daily and it is difficult, if not impossible, to get some space, never mind a seat, when coming into town - but also to improve the chances of the town of Balbriggan and the surrounding areas in terms of tourism and development. We want to see people visiting this beautiful city but we would like them to go to the north of the county as well to explore the many wonderful and beautiful things to do there. However, it is extremely difficult to access areas such as Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush and Lusk. We call on metro north to be fast-tracked because it is desperately needed. The preliminary census figures that show that ours is the fastest-growing population of any constituency in the country support the claim we are making about the extension of metro north. When one talks to people in north county Dublin about metro north, they throw their eyes up to heaven and say it is just like the draining of the Shannon: it gets wheeled out at election time and then gets put back with the mothballs. This is no reflection on the Minister but rather the previous Government and the one before that headed by Fianna Fáil.

I sincerely hope we will see metro north. It is essential not only that it be fast-tracked, but also that the Government give consideration to supporting the Sinn Féin motion. I call on all parties and Independents in the House to support the Sinn Féin motion and consider the extension of metro north up to the north of the county where it is so badly needed.

The greater Dublin area is being choked by a troika of policy failures. First, we have lopsided, rudderless spatial development, which is over-concentrating economic and population activity in Dublin and at the same time gutting regional Ireland. For example, more people leave County Meath every day to work than actually work in the county. No other county in the country has that experience. The M3 obviously goes both ways, but one direction is congested in the morning and the other side empty, and vice versa in the evening-time. We have the shocking situation that there are farms within the M50 yet people travel from Cavan, Leitrim and Wexford to work in Dublin. A big problem with the transport situation is the lopsided spatial plan we have in this country.

Divestment in public transport is forcing people into private transport. The Minister's Government and the previous Government have taken hundreds of millions of euro out of public transport, leaving people only with the opportunity to use private transport. I mentioned infrastructure to the Minister earlier. We have a famine of infrastructural spend in this country, his Government being the second-lowest infrastructural spenders in the EU, second only to Romania. If there is an accident on the M50, which there regularly is, that road and all the feeder motorways into it can be completely like a car park for about two hours. That road is beyond capacity. I talked to him earlier about the Dublin-to-Navan rail line.

If the line was in operation, not only would people from County Meath get into the city quicker but approximately 15,000 cars would be removed from the capital's streets. As well as studying the route, a new feasibility study must examine the knock-on effects that opening the Dublin to Navan line would have on the rest of the Dublin network. The line will not open until 2045 at the earliest because the Government does not have a plan to do so.

The lack of continuous bus lines on all the radial routes into the city is a major problem because it causes buses to get snarled up in city traffic. I hope the Minister will address the absence of an orbital public transport service along the M50. People travelling to destinations in the city must first travel to the city centre before taking another public transport service outwards to their destination in Dublin. If I get to Blanchardstown off the M3 and need to go to Dunshaughlin or Swords, I should be able to take a bus to those destinations. The Minister's predecessor indicated that this type of service would be provided.

Cyclists are the poor relation in transport. I cycle into work every day and I often see mothers and young children on bicycles fighting for space on the north quays with heavy goods vehicles and double-decker buses. A cyclist's life is lost almost monthly on our roads.

There does not appear to be any plan to introduce electric, hybrid or biogas-fuelled buses, local authority fleets or taxis in Dublin. This is unlike cities such as Paris and Mexico, which are examining ways of removing diesel powered vehicles from the city.

I am sick of horizon politics, by which I mean the attitude that everything will be okay some day in the sunny future. I am sure the Minister is also sick of it. We are living with real difficulties now. Horizon politics is not new. A former Fianna Fáil Minister with responsibility for transport, Mr. Noel Dempsey, promised a train service to Navan by 2015 and we still do not have one. I ask the Minister to move beyond horizon politics. Rather than promise a shiny new future some day, he should ensure investment is made now.

The first line of the motion is spot on. Transport and travel trends in the greater Dublin area are unsustainable. Congestion is increasing and the quality of life for commuters diminishing. One traffic incident on any of the main arteries into Dublin city or on the M50 can result in traffic chaos during rush hour.

The motion is all motherhood and apple pie in so far as it features a little bit of everything that is good - some metro north here, a DART underground there, cycleways, pedestrianisation, park-and-ride projects, the removal of bottlenecks and synchronisation of traffic lights. No one in the Chamber will disagree with any of these measures, all of which enjoy broad support, at least from representatives of the greater Dublin region.

While there is nothing in the motion with which one could disagree, the text hides some classic Fianna Fáil populism that needs to be interrogated a little. Fianna Fáil is positioning itself to be the Government after the next election. For this reason, all the wonderful aims it has set for transport need to match up and be compatible. There is some looseness in the motion regarding buses, however. It calls for an increase in the number of buses "either public or private". Does Fianna Fáil care whether bus services are public or private or does it simply want more buses? Does it seek further tendering of Dublin Bus routes as opposed to the current bare minimum of tendering to comply with European directives? Does it want bus workers to have fair remuneration, pensions and good terms and conditions of employment or does it want the opposite, which is a feature of privatisation?

We have all felt the effect of these Fianna Fáil three-card tricks in the past. It will argue it is in favour of increased and improved public transport, be it Bus Éireann or Dublin Bus, but then includes in a motion a vague, seemingly innocuous call for an increase in all kinds of buses. This call is made three sentences after an acknowledgement of a lack of vision and strategic plan. What is Fianna Fáil's strategic plan for buses? Is it committed to public bus transport, ensuring the subvention to Dublin Bus is increased and investment made in new buses and the provision of more routes and improved real time passenger information? Unfortunately, in the real world, increasing the frequency of both public and private bus services is not easily achieved and it is worth pointing out that increasing the number of private operators would have a definite negative impact on the sustainability of our public bus networks in Dublin. The Labour Party fought tooth and nail in government to protect our bus services from the worst excesses of the troika programme. Fianna Fail needs to pick a side because it cannot be everyone's friend on this issue. It seems the era of responsible opposition is over and the party is moving back towards its natural position of irresponsible government.

I take issue with the line which refers to a "lack of forward planning for the impact of the Luas Cross City, including the impact of its construction on city trade and mobility". I cannot see any other way the Luas cross-city project could be constructed without causing disruption as it is major infrastructure that cuts through the busiest part of the capital. I commend Luas cross-city on its communication with members of the public throughout the works. The Luas cross city communications office is open and doing a good job in providing a fixed point for any individual or body to interface with Transport Infrastructure Ireland on the project. The website for the project is also very informative and an excellent information campaign has been run on radio keeping us informed of progress and disruption. Let us give credit where it is due.

While Fianna Fáil has introduced a motion that features many laudable aspects, it is lapsing into a regrettable and familiar pattern of pandering to certain stakeholders' bias. In this case, the stakeholder is the chambers of commerce. Large infrastructure projects cannot but have an impact during the construction phase. However, the long-term benefits of this cross-city Luas project will be felt by commuters and traders alike for decades to come. I predict similar noises from city traders when construction work on metro north begins in a few years. This, too, is vital transport infrastructure and we must all be committed to its delivery.

It is complete and utter nonsense for a Fianna Fáil Deputy to suggest the previous Government could have proceeded with the original metro north plan given the state of the public finances when his party left government and given that a bailout programme was in place and the troika was in town. I congratulate my constituency colleague, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, on having the hardest neck in Irish politics.

The National Transport Authority and all other transport stakeholders are doing their best to improve transport in Dublin. Pinch points are being tackled, quality bus corridors continue to improve and traffic lights are being synchronised. I have more to say on this issue but as I am sharing time with my colleague, Deputy Joan Burton, I will conclude.

Dublin is a fabulous city but its transport infrastructure is something of a shambles. It is a little like a recovering patient in that while there has been some progress, many things have simply not been done. I will focus on a couple of issues which I raised with the Minister previously. The Minister should not bury everything under the idea of having an underground DART because that project will not be completed for a long time. What he could do is electrify the Sligo line as far as Maynooth to facilitate the DART. Approximately 12,000 houses have been built in the Ongar, Clonee and Hansfield areas in recent years and a special development zone has been in place in the area for more than ten years, although it collapsed when Fianna Fáil ruined the economy. Some 3,000 houses are ready to go in a lovely area in which people will buy and happily settle. However, the train service must be substantially upgraded. A pregnant woman using the Maynooth line will probably be advised by her doctor and will most certainly be advised by her mother not to use the service because the trains have become extremely overcrowded again. Extending the DART to Maynooth would be a fairly simple project. It would add lustre to any Minister's legacy to focus on a relatively simple project that feeds in subsequently to the rest of the transport plan. The return to work of large numbers of people has created a major capacity problem on the train service. Almost every train needs two additional carriages to ease overcrowding. This would be a relatively simple and cheap measure that would immeasurably improve commuters' lives.

As I have stated many times, Dublin Bus has made significant improvements in its service in the past decade, despite the financial crisis. The Minister should give up his mistaken policy of seeking to privatise buses.

Be it in respect of rural Ireland or Dublin, this policy is wrong. We need a public transport system whose workers are paid well and have good conditions of service. I am biased - I come from a CIE railway family, but the Minister would get the loyalty of people who work well and provide a great service to the public.

We need more capacity on buses. They are packed. Like the Minister, I am a regular bus and Luas user. At times, one would feel like fainting, such is the level of crowding now that people have returned to work. Most capacity on the routes is necessary. While I welcome the Minister's comments, please do not tell me that it will take years and years. Instead of paying down the debt, it would be better if the Government used the €3 billion that it proposes to get from the sale of AIB to invest-----

-----in some element of public infrastructure, as we proposed last night. The Minister is well up on financial affairs. He should talk to his colleague, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, as the idea of throwing €3 billion into paying down debt at a time when we are more than exceeding our debt schedules does not make sense.

We need orbital routes. One cannot travel from Swords to Blanchardstown or from Blanchardstown to Tallaght or places in between using public transport. That needs to be addressed.

The Minister must publish the cost-benefit analysis. Dáil committees, such as the Committee on Budgetary Oversight, cannot get cost-benefit analyses. Given the rural bias of the Government, I fear at times that we will have the DART to Dingle before we have the DART to Maynooth or Skerries, Rush and other places on the north side. A significant amount can be done with relatively small quantities of money to make lasting improvements. Please, let us have green buses as well.

There was certainly no rural bias when Deputy Burton was in government.

I support the amendment submitted by Solidarity-People Before Profit. We are debating transport in Dublin, but we cannot have such a debate without dealing with the question of the workers who provide that public transport, including those in Bus Éireann who are based at Broadstone or drive buses in and out of Busáras in the capital as well as outside Dublin. Currently, these workers are considering recommendations from the Labour Court. I put it to the Minister that they are being asked to do so with a gun to their heads. A couple of weeks ago, we read in The Sunday Business Post that the company's board had indicated that if workers chose to reject the recommendations, it would file for examinership within a matter of hours. That is blackmail. It is disgraceful and deserves to be exposed. It is not industrial relations - it is thuggery, pure and simple. I want to put that on the record. Without such threats, is it likely that workers would accept what is a poor deal? It means 200 jobs lost as well as pay cuts and a disimprovement in conditions for a not insignificant proportion of the workforce. The powers that be were forced to make some improvements in pensions and to retreat on the scale of the pay cuts that were originally planned. This change only happened because of the strike action waged by workers over the three weeks during which they were out.

The key question about the deal is whether it strengthens or weakens the company in the face of competition from private operators. What happened in Cork last week can be indicative in that regard. The diktat came down from the top that there should be no more than 48 hours worked in any given week. Many people worked a longer week than that, but the change was to take immediate effect. The result, which the workers and experienced union activists had warned about, was the company's inability to operate 17 of its daily services on the Friday of the May bank holiday weekend, including the Waterford route, the Goleen-west Cork route and the city and suburban routes. The policy undermined the company's ability to deliver a service, increased its reliance on private operators and worsened the service to the general public.

This gives us a glimpse of where the deal is leading Bus Éireann. There can be no solutions to the problems at the company without a significant increase in public funding. I am in favour of an investment of more than €9 million, but the latter amount would solve the immediate problems. This comes at a time when the political establishment is prepared to spend more than €10 million on the trials of the Jobstown defendants in the Circuit Court as well as other trials that it has planned.

This is a poor deal from the point of view of the workers and there is blackmail involved. Should the workers choose to vote "No" to the proposals, we will stand by them entirely in applying the necessary political pressure on the Minister, Deputy Ross, and the Government to give public transport the funds that it deserves.

There is a crisis in public transport in Dublin. Mistakes were made time and again by various companies. It is not that long ago that the NTA and Dublin Bus reconfigured their routes, yet the situation has not improved significantly. That said, a number of the extended routes work very well.

Investment in CIE has decreased in recent years. For example, investment in Dublin Bus fell from €85.6 million in 2008 to €57.7 million in 2015. Although it increased slightly last year, it is nowhere near pre-2008 levels, which is where it should be going. We are supposed to be in recovery. Instead, investment is continually being undermined. The Government's response is to use the NTA as a shield against responsibility. The Minister stated that traffic congestion in Dublin cost the economy approximately €350 million, which is almost six times the amount of subvention that he is prepared to give Dublin Bus. It does not make sense.

I will remind the Minister of the feelings he expressed about CIE workers in an article back in the day. Regarding cuts at CIE, he wrote:

Not a bad idea as CIE has in recent years been exposed as a swamp of waste and skulduggery. Quangos like CIE and its three subsidiaries - Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann - are in dire need of efficiencies. There is plenty of fat hidden in the darker corners of these bloated bodies.

It is eloquent language, but it is clearly angry and directed at CIE's workers.

The NTA's actions have helped to shield the Minister from responsibility in the recent disputes. The various justifications that he and agencies have trotted out have everything to do with EU regulation and competition and nothing to do with a serious attempt to provide a decent transport service in this city despite the fact that, as the Minister knows, Dublin has one of the lowest PSO levels among major European cities. The Minister withdrew several million euro from Dublin Bus when it performed well a few years ago and the competition that the NTA facilitates produces lower pay levels and conditions for workers at every turn.

This is what has been at the heart of the Bus Éireann dispute and other disputes in Dublin Bus. The Government is now about to rebrand the NTA and Dublin Bus by painting bus stops and bus shelters and painting buses. Low emissions will be welcome but, on their own, they will not do the business unless we get cars off the road, and we will not get cars off the road until there is a major funding exercise in respect of public transport.

The grand announcement by the NTA is really a cover. It will be very expensive branding exercise and will certainly make the NTA look like it is providing the transport when in fact the three companies are providing it. The NTA constantly says that the conditions and pay of workers are none of its concern but it has no problem awarding contracts to companies which drive down the pay and conditions of other workers.

Those in Fianna Fáil seem to have had another collective case of amnesia because it was their party and the Green Party that began the cuts which led to this chaos and congestion, taking 200 buses from the Dublin Bus fleet back in the day-----

We built the motorway system and the Luas.

-----and putting more cars on the road by building the motorway system and putting an emphasis on private instead of public transport.

Our motion cuts through the nonsense of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Minister, Deputy Ross. It states clearly that we would scrap the NTA and its politically-driven agenda and that public transport would be central to the policy in the years ahead in terms of giving proper subvention, providing facilities for cyclists and treating workers correctly, not least because of climate change and the need that exists for this city to grow and develop. I commend the amendment from Solidarity-People Before Profit, which would completely change the Fianna Fáil motion.

I call Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan, who is sharing time with Deputy Broughan.

The motion before us is interesting and there is a lot to support in it, as, indeed, there are aspects of the amendments that are worthy of support also. We hear about a traffic management plan for Dublin but, unfortunately, we often see the absence of traffic management. When there is a problem, I fail to understand why we cannot prevent it from worsening by diverting traffic when it is possible to do so instead of allowing that problem to be exacerbated.

I note the term "lack of vision" but I do not think it is confined to this Government only as previous Governments have also shown a lack of vision. I believe we see that in regard to the Luas. We had all of the disruption with the first Luas and we then went into years of disruption with the second Luas. Now, we are into more disruption while joining them up. Forward thinking and a vision for the future would have prevented that.

There have been a number of extensions, junction upgrades and widenings on the M50 over the years but there are times that this busiest road in the country is not fit for purpose. What is happening is that motorists are avoiding the M50 instead of it being used for the purpose for which it was intended, namely, as a ring road to pass around Dublin. Now, however, it is very much a commuter road linking the suburbs. I have previously asked the Minister questions about the need for an outer ring road.

Dublin Airport is the sixth busiest airport in Europe. Many cities in Europe have rail links to the city centre. I would make the point that we have excellent Aircoach cover and excellent bus services to the airport, as well as taxis, and I believe they are serving passengers very well. I think an opportunity was lost when the port tunnel was being developed in that there could have been a rail link with it. I want to acknowledge the service provided by Dublin Bus, particularly the cross-city service.

I would also like to mention the plans for the pedestrian plaza. I like pedestrian plazas but I am not too sure about this one around Trinity College, in particular when one wants to drive from the northside on O'Connell Street over to the southside. There have been elements of an anti-car agenda. What I saw in another city was that Sunday is traffic-free in the city centre and I would suggest that.

While I am all for people slowing down, the 30 km/h limit can be very difficult at times and, of course, it is not going to be of any use unless it is enforced. What will happen is that some people will obey the 30 km/h limit and they will be passed out by other motorists who are not obeying. I also wonder if it applies to cyclists because I have been doing 30 km/h and I have been overtaken by cyclists at times.

With regard to the commuter belt in neighbouring counties, there has to be realistic investment in rail and road transport. When we visit other cities and see their public transport, we find it is efficient and regular so people know it is coming, and it is also not costly. That is what encourages people to use it.

I want to make one special plea regarding the canals. We always talk about walking and cycling along the canals but we are not looking at actually using them as a method of transport.

To conclude, while I am not being parochial, I think we need to look again at Dublin, where there is a need for a different advisory council for the city. It is the capital and has the biggest population and I believe we have to look at it in a wider context, with more joined-up thinking.

I think we had better look out for the cyclists in Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan's area. I call Deputy Broughan.

It is highly ironic that it is Fianna Fáil which is tabling the Dublin transport motion before us. It was that party and its current Fine Gael partners in government which starved the Dublin region of transport and other key infrastructure over the past five decades. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, for example, the proposed light rail system included a northside Ballymun-Dublin Airport line but the Ahern Government scrapped the northside proposal and went ahead with the minimum red and green lines. Now, three decades later, we are still talking about metro north and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Donohoe, has again put it on the long finger until 2026 or whenever. I want to commend Fingal County Council chief executive, Paul Reid, and his staff on highlighting the issue and protecting the metro north economic corridor up to Swords and Lissenhall. With the huge population growth in the north fringe and Swords, and with the airport heading towards 30 million passengers per annum, it is not a question of whether metro north can be fast-tracked; it must be fast-tracked. It is also disappointing that a completion date for the metro light rail could not have been targeted for, say, 2022, the anniversary of national independence and in time for the possibility of the Rugby World Cup being hosted here. In fact, it could have been part of the package that Dick Spring and his committee were offering to the other rugby federations. Instead, the NTA talks of yet more consultations whereas Spain and other EU partners have many examples of metro and light rail systems being built in three to five years.

At a meeting of the Committee on Budgetary Oversight yesterday, during our review of the capital programme, we again heard of the desperately low levels of investment in Ireland, this time from the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. The austerity Governments since 2008 have allowed investment to fall below minimum depreciation levels and Ireland had the lowest gross fixed capital formation in the EU at less than 2% in 2015. The current Government's programme down to 2021 is a feeble attempt to remedy this and the funding available needs to be doubled, especially in the areas of social housing and transport. I thoroughly agree with the Dublin chamber that metro north and DART underground projects should be prioritised in the next five years. The commuter train networks in the west of Dublin city should also be urgently transformed into DART services. The subsuming of the Railway Procurement Agency into the NTA was a grave mistake by the last Government and I was very disappointed to learn from the railway procurement section of the NTA recently that none of the fixed rail projects to which I refer are shovel-ready despite the millions of euro - perhaps €60 million - that have already been spent on planning metro north.

Obviously, the network direct system introduced by Dublin Bus in the past decade has transformed the structure of bus transport in the city and Dublin Bus staff must be complimented on the great efficiencies they have produced. However, further massive investment is clearly necessary in the bus network, especially to facilitate orbital travel around the city region. While a well-developed fixed line rail system for Dublin is critical, the bus network will continue to be the workhorse of public transport.

The number of people cycling to work at the end of 2016 was almost the same as the number carried by the Luas lines and, of course, many more commuters use the Dublin bikes scheme. Nonetheless, I note the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has still not undertaken a formal review of the implementation of the national cycle policy framework and, hopefully, this will be carried out later in the year. I and colleagues on Dublin City Council in the early 1990s promoted a city-wide cycling network but it has again taken decades to develop this and to expedite measures for pedestrian safety. I also proposed Dutch-style home zones, with 25 mph speed limits for residential areas in the mid-1990s.

While I welcome the completion of the Sutton to Sandycove cycleway in my constituency, Dublin Bay North, I have received many complaints from constituents that the new James Larkin Road is dangerous on road safety grounds because it is so narrow and no lane has been provided for public transport and emergency vehicles. Constituents believe the original 2008 plan should have been constructed with a public transport lane and the safe cycleway beside it.

Last year, I made a generally positive submission on the proposed College Green plaza. However, many workers have complained that this and other current plans for the Dublin quays emanating from the traffic department of Dublin City Council do not recognise the need for well-structured north-south arteries across Dublin for necessary motor traffic. Most of Dublin city lies north of the Liffey and the current city manager forgets that 65% to 70% of his administrative area is actually located on the northside.

City planners have continued to approve large-scale office and other workplace developments in Dublin 2 and Dublin 4. That approach requires, alongside increased facilities for pedestrians and cyclists and greatly enhanced public transport, the maintenance of a core network of cross-city street linkages. Indeed, the recent plans for the city quays also fall into that category because it would inevitably have deflected a lot of east-west traffic into the suburbs of Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan's constituency, which is unacceptable.

Finally, last week Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol elected their first mayors and received some reasonable autonomy from London. The Dublin region, more than ever, needs an elected mayor to fight for necessary transport and other infrastructure for our capital city. In fact, it was the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parties on Fingal County Council which prevented us from having a referendum on the mayoralty of Dublin. We need a mayor. We need somebody to fight for Dublin. Manchester and London have mayors. We have seen the success of the London mayor, the Paris mayor, the New York mayor, etc. We need a Dublin mayor as well to move forward on transport and not to be relying on Governments that are dominated by Members who do not really care about Dublin.

I compliment and thank Deputy Troy and the Fianna Fáil Party on bringing this motion before Members this evening.

The Minister and the Minister of State might ask why am I talking about issues in Dublin. A pile of people from Kerry work in Dublin. Kerry people, myself included, travel here on business and for different reasons. I have seen a lot of changes over the past number of years when it comes to transport in Dublin city and in the short time that I have, I want to ask Deputy Troy and Fianna Fáil to show an amount of interest in the rest of the country that is equal to their interest in Dublin. They will do that because we have other transport-related problems. For instance, in my native county, we have problems with access and different issues but I will talk about that in a moment. I merely want to thank Deputy Troy for bringing this issue to a head here tonight because it is terribly important.

I want to compliment a very important group of people, that is, those who provide our public transport service here in Dublin. I refer to those who drive the buses, the trams and the DART. All these different modes of access are terribly important. The staff work really diligently, sometimes in difficult circumstances, and I compliment them on that.

A short number of years ago, when coming from Kerry one did not get choked up until one hit the Red Cow roundabout but it has become so bad that now one is below in Naas when the traffic starts to get backed up. Something has to be done, whether it is trying to encourage motorists to use public transport or trying to get them to take out the bicycle. We all have our bikes which we use in the best way we can. We have to really knuckle down to this problem because, if one reads the statistics, the population in the greater Dublin area is expected to grow by 22% to 1.8 million by 2030 and by 26% to 700,000 in the mid-east region alone, including Kildare, Meath and Wicklow. This will lead to a chaotic situation. I call on the Minister and the Minister of State, and on the Government, as Fianna Fáil is doing, to put measures in place now that will act in a progressive and workmanlike way to deal with the problem because the Minister and Minister of State are in charge and it is up to them at this time to put measures in place to ensure we will be able to cater for this great amount of people.

While I again thank Deputy Troy, coming back to the rest of the country I ask that it does not all happen inside the Red Cow roundabout. I accept the population is increasing in Dublin but we want to see our part of the country, rural Ireland, and our areas progress and grow and be attractive for employers and to be attractive for those who want to invest. That will not happen unless we have proper road networks and proper access and unless our towns are not choked, because that is the case at present where I am from. We lack parking and bypasses and are looking for our share of the investment. I do not want to see it all happen in Dublin. Quite simply, the world does not revolve around Dublin.

I very much support Deputy Troy in what he is doing here tonight and thank him for bringing the motion before the House. I call on the Minister and Minister of State to ensure that they will act accordingly and ensure that the people will not be completely choked up in another couple of years' time. It has changed so much in the past five or six years. It has got so busy it is literally chaos trying to move around Dublin city at present. I ask them to try to do something about it.

I, too, am happy to speak on this motion tonight.

I note that the motion recognises that transport and travel needs within the greater Dublin area are unsustainable - we heard that a long time ago - and that "congestion is increasing, transport emissions are growing, economic competitiveness is suffering and quality of life for commuters and inhabitants is declining". I had to look at the motion twice to ensure they were not talking about rural Ireland. I note it also states "the capacity of the Dublin region as a destination for living, visiting and for locating and doing business is being seriously undermined", and "that significant actions are required to increase capacity and usability of public transport". While I am completely supportive of the needs of the Dublin population and have no desire to engage in a game of rural versus urban Ireland, I have serious concerns about the overall thrust of this motion and will not be supporting it. My fear is that we will end up compounding an already disproportionate focus on the capital. We need a National Transport Authority that takes into account the dire needs of the regions to develop better transport infrastructure. If we want to get another authority or, as I call such a body, a quango which prioritises Dublin, which so many already do in a de facto manner, then where will we be in ten years' time? It is like a monster gobbling up all before it. I simply do not believe that the capital and the transport infrastructure associated with it are in need of superior levels of support. They have got all the support. They have got all the investment including everything from the DART to the Luas, the buses and whatever.

We need to develop the regions. We need to stop the swallowing up of rural Ireland and the draining away of industry and employment from the regions. I met the head man of the IDA in Washington on the eve of St. Patrick's Day and he told me that not only do companies coming to Ireland not want to go to Tipperary where we want jobs, they will not even go to Galway, Limerick or Waterford. Everything is about Dublin and successive Governments have created that. I certainly am not supporting the motion. I am not begrudging anything that they have here, but I cannot walk home to night but I will be hounded by taxis to hop in. If I ordered a taxi in Tipperary, I would not get one tonight - not a hope. I would not get one in the towns. Maybe one would get one at the weekends. One will not get a taxi. It is totally unfair and totally imbalanced.

Quality of life, quite frankly, is not good in Dublin because of the pressure, the traffic, the emissions and everything else. I honestly believe we need to achieve some progress. There are too many authorities. One would know Dublin Port authority, by its name, is there for years. It is quango-land and they all are compounded in the public service commission, below where the Luas line is, where they control every appointment to every board, every club and nearly every dog race. They want to keep control of it. That is the way it is. That is the way many officials in the Department are too.

I welcome the fact that the Minister's first visit outside of Dublin when he was appointed was to Tipperary.

He came to Kerry too.

He did. He came to Kerry as well. It was very important that a lot of the officials were down with the Minister and understand. We need a spur road now to come from the N24 at Cahir, off the M8 motorway, right up to Limerick and we cannot have it all on the western corridor.

We need investment. We have a proud population that can work. We have people with all kinds of skill sets who can do any work. We have a lot of foreign direct investment, which is happy with us in Tipperary, but it cannot all be about Dublin.

It is not all about Dublin.

It is all about Dublin.

No, it is not.

All about Dublin, every way we turn, not only in here but in the system. It has gobbled it up now. It has cannibalised itself. It is Dublin, Dublin, Dublin, Dublin, and who are we from outside in the country to complain? We hit the Naas junction for the-----

Why does the Deputy stay here?

Was not Deputy Troy's party in government?

I did not interrupt Deputy Troy. The Deputy is entitled to put down his motion. I have no problem with that. That is his right. I am not supporting it. I am surprised at a man from the back end of Mullingar to be giving everything to Dublin.

If the Deputy does not wish to speak through the Chair, he will have to go elsewhere.

Of course I will. I understand that. I am meeting Donie Cassidy in the bar while I have my supper. I must get this man back on track because he is getting a bit out of hand going off after Dublin and abandoning rural Ireland. We need jobs in rural Ireland. We need development in rural Ireland. We need infrastructure in rural Ireland. We are not begging for anything. We are entitled to get a fair bang for our buck. We pay taxes too. We work. We pay road taxes and everything else. It is not right to have it all in Dublin. There is a total imbalance. I did not go into government but I am supporting the Government on this one.

It is a long way to Tipperary.

You will not be able to find it if you keep going the way you are.

There will be a grant announcement for Tipperary shortly.

I wish to share time with Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice. I will take approximately six and a half minutes.

Seven minutes and two minutes. Is that agreed? Agreed.

It is worth going back to the early 1990s to consider when the Dublin Transportation Initiative, DTI, was put in place. I was a member of one of several consultative panels. The purpose of the DTI was to deal with traffic congestion in the capital and European funds were available for initiatives to deal with it. The case was very strongly made by Ireland at the time because Dublin was underperforming due to congestion. There were traffic delays, loss of productivity, increased accident rates, increased insurance costs and people's time wasted, among other issues. If anything, that case has got more extreme and it will not improve until key projects are in place and more people live in the city centre itself. The DTI reported in 1996 and set out what should be done. Not only did the report identify projects such as the DART underground, the Luas, metro north, a doubling of the Maynooth rail line and many other initiatives but it tested those pieces of infrastructure against population scenarios. The preferred scenario at the time was that there would be a population increase in the city centre and that was to be achieved through higher densities. Other growth scenarios were tested, including the do-nothing scenario, or leave it to the markets. The latter is pretty much what occurred. Fianna Fáil was in government for most of those years. It was all very well having a plan but when the plan did not match the growth scenarios, it was a mismatch. It is important to say that.

The very big projects include the DART underground that would connect the main rail lines and which has been described as a game-changer with the potential to treble rail capacity in the greater Dublin area to 100 million journeys per annum. All these years later, this project is still, largely, at the planning stage and the same is true of metro north.

It is well worth looking at the population changes between 1996 and 2016 in percentage terms. The Dublin Transportation Initiative had a 20-year horizon and it concluded in 1995 to 1996. It showed in graphic terms why we face such significant congestion. Over those 20 years Dublin city grew by just 13%; Dún Laoghaire grew by 13%; South Dublin grew by 22%; Fingal by 43%; Kildare by 39%; Meath by 44% and Wicklow by 28%. More people now live in the three counties of Kildare, Meath and Wicklow than live in Dublin city centre. That is what is called a doughnut. It is a typical American city that is car-dependent. We have created a perfect doughnut. While the DTI linked land use and planning when testing scenarios, clearly the city must be an attractive place for people to live, and that includes for families as well as individuals. One must look at apartment size, quality open spaces, good levels of security, investment in schools and good places to work.

One could ask what is occurring now and whether anything has changed. The growth experienced in the commuter counties is increasing. For example, Kildare is currently working through local area plans that include the development of 32,000 housing units up to 2023. If one assumes 2.5 people per housing unit, that is 80,000 extra people up to 2023. We are reinforcing the doughnut, which is absolute madness. The trend will add to the commuting demands and the national primary route will become a distributor route for the outer counties. The same is occurring in Meath and Wicklow as is occurring in Kildare. What occurs in doughnut-type cities is a demand for increased road capacity, calls for roads to be widened and new roads to be built. In that way one copperfastens the problem.

While we agree with Fianna Fáil on the need for capital investment, we believe it is short-sighted not to invest in capital projects in order to pay down the debt where they make absolute sense, which is the case with some of the projects outlined. In fact, we are convinced it will cost us more in the long run. We have climate obligations that will result in us paying hard cash when we should be investing that money in this hard infrastructure at this stage. We need to look at cities such as London that had the foresight in Victorian times to put in an underground, which has stood the test of time. There are plenty of other such examples.

Not only do we have a significant problem with congestion but we also have the climate obligations. We need more houses and apartments. However, let us not be so short-sighted that we resolve one problem and make another problem worse. Where the housing units are located is critically important. While an advisory council is useful it will not resolve the problem. It will take time to deliver big projects such as the DART underground and metro north and in the meantime interim solutions must be found to deal with the problem. We cannot separate land use from transportation planning. What we are doing at the moment is making a bad situation worse in terms of what is going on with the regional guidelines and I caution against that.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this motion. There is no doubt Dublin needs infrastructure but so does the rest of the country. I heard an earlier speaker say the population of Dublin is growing and this and that is happening. The reason the pressure exists is that more pressure will develop in one area when there is imbalanced regional development. I am surprised at the lack of emphasis in the motion on rural Ireland. I did not think Fianna Fáil was concentrating on one part of the country.

I remember when the M50 was built and the rest of the country got its potholes filled. An outer ring road in Galway was objected to for planning reasons. The N59 was also objected to for planning reasons. The Cork to Mallow road was not done when the country was awash with money. That has left a deficit of infrastructure around the country and that has caused major problems.

Perhaps the Minister will find a map of Ireland on Google and see that when one crosses the Shannon, there is a place called the west of Ireland. Money has not been invested in the N4 road. The same is true of the N5. We know the problems in Galway city, where the situation is worse than Dublin because of the rigmarole with regulations and rules. We have seen what has happened in Cork, Limerick and Sligo. Let us go around the country. Those places count. They matter but, unfortunately, 80% of the staff in the Department live and work around Dublin and they do not realise the rest of the country exists. If the Minister does one thing I urge him to move the Department to a rural area because where one works and where one drives from is what will change one's mind about the various problems.

In the programme for Government it is stated that the western rail corridor would be considered. Has that been done? No. There is also a reference in the programme for Government that funding would be provided for the N4, N5 and other roads. One year later no funding has been provided. The issue that was considered the most urgent was to get TEN-T funding for the west, and that was taken out in 2011 by the previous Government. I see the Minister of State, Deputy O'Donovan, is in the Chamber. I hope he will make an input and try to deliver for rural Ireland, for example, in terms of TEN-T funding, because it is crucial for the west to make sure there is balanced regional development.

When one looks at the rate of spending in Departments, rural Ireland needs to get €2 out of every €3 but that is not happening. A person could have their thumb out all day for a bus or train but they would need binoculars to see them coming. That is the reality of what is happening rural areas. Dublin does matter but the rest of the country matters as well.

I welcome this debate on the motion tabled by my colleague, Deputy Lahart, which aims to address the problem of transport gridlock that exists in the greater Dublin region. As a Wicklow Deputy, I want to put on record the fact that part of this congestion is because 70% of Wicklow's workers are leaving the county every day to work mostly in Dublin. This situation is unsustainable, not just from a transport perspective but also from a social perspective and from the point of view of people's well-being. The obvious answer that would be of benefit to Dublin's transport problem is more sustainable jobs based in County Wicklow. No one in Wicklow or east Carlow would disagree that commuting to Dublin has increasingly become a nightmare. This puts extra pressure on our residents. Transport Infrastructure Ireland has confirmed that Wicklow has the worst traffic congestion in the commuter belt. In north Wicklow large numbers of commuters are trying and failing to access rail services. A lack of rail capacity is forcing people to use the N11 and this further contributes to gridlock. It was disappointing that, under the most recent transport plan for the greater Dublin area, the Luas line was not extended to Bray. That formerly proposed route needs to be put back in the plan. Additional park-and-ride facilities would also be required in Bray, Greystones, Wicklow and Arklow.

Traffic management on the N11 is often non-existent, thus creating gridlock every morning as commuters make their way to work. The smallest drop of rain or a minor traffic accident can result in hours being lost as vehicles are backed up as far as Newtownmountkennedy. A major upgrade of the N11 is vital for north Wicklow with improved access on all junctions that merge with the M50. The N81 in west Wicklow is also a crucial arterial route into Dublin for many people in Wicklow, Carlow and Kildare. It needs to be upgraded urgently to tackle notorious bottlenecks in Hollywood, Blessington, and Brittas. The people of Wicklow and east Carlow need a transport plan, with specific timed actions that are managed with a view to regional growth and sustainability. I urge the Minister and the Government to start resolving these problems rather than just observing them.

I am delighted to have a chance to participate in this debate and support my colleague Deputy Lahart's motion. A special emphasis and focus on Dublin city has been lost in much of the debate here. In the past 20 years, a lot of good has been done in terms of investment in Dublin, including by the Government led by the former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. Deputy Broughan likes to be disrespectful about it and so does Deputy Bríd Smith. Perhaps Deputy Broughan has not travelled outside Dublin in recent years following the expansive transportation plans that were put in place by former Ministers such as Séamus Brennan, Martin Cullen and Noel Dempsey.

In the same way that Deputy Bríd Smith thinks magical fairy dust will build all the houses that are needed in the country, it is the same thing when it comes to public transport from Solidarity-People Before Profit - the "M&Ms party", "Skittles party" or whatever they are calling themselves this week.

This historic city looks exceptionally well today in the resplendent sunshine, but the choked traffic arteries detract from that image. They block the city centre and main access roads, including the M1, N2 and N3. Transportation around the Dublin region impacts on all citizens, including in my constituency in County Meath. I have raised the Navan-Dublin train line with the Minister, Deputy Ross.

Dublin city is under pressure as a result of the number of commuters with which it must deal each day. Some 60% of people living in Meath are working outside the county. We need to invest in heavy infrastructure, such as the Navan rail link, so that we can help Dublin to grow and help our own county as well. The Minister of State should work with the Minister to ensure that the second phase of the Dublin-Navan rail line is progressed beyond the existing plans.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this motion and I commend Deputy Lahart on bringing it forward to the Dublin Transport Authority's advisory council. Kildare is a commuter county and I am a Deputy for Kildare North. A recent article in the Leinster Leader referred to the area as "a bed for the night" because at peak times on most weekday mornings, traffic is tailed back from Heuston Station to the Leixlip, Maynooth, Celbridge and Kilcock interchanges. That is something that needs to be changed. We should consider increased capital investment under two headings, namely, public transport and infrastructure.

Since being elected to the Dáil, I have consistently pressed for better public transport services. To this end, I have met various stakeholders, including Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and the National Transport Authority. We need additional bus and train services, as well as extra park-and-ride facilities. We also need to examine the inclusion of a rapid public transport service which is not currently there. That would obviously assist greatly in getting people from A to B. We should also look at improved infrastructure, such as a road linking the M4 to the M7. Currently, 5% of vehicles that come onto the M50 after the M1 only follow it through to the airport interchange. That is a significant statistic, so we also need to consider an outer ring road.

Traffic congestion is causing major problems for the environment and for public health, including stress. It also reduces the impact people are having in carrying out their daily work. Commuters from North Kildare to Dublin are currently spending four hours in their vehicles per day. We need to deal with this as a matter of urgency.

When one hits the outskirts of Dublin on the M1 at 6 a.m., it is clear that the queues of commuters trying to access work in the city grow longer every day. The mixture of container freight is causing untold delays for those trying to get to work and school. Dundalk to Dublin off-peak can be achieved in one hour, but at rush hour it can take two and a half hours. That often means that people spend more time travelling than working. This morning one of my staff said that the bus she was on reached Bachelors Walk at 9.20 a.m. but did not arrive in Nassau Street until 9.45 a.m. That is a mere 750 m that could be walked in ten minutes, yet it took 25 minutes for the bus to travel the distance.

The level of gridlock that commuters to and from Dublin must endure daily is unacceptable. I use the M1 every day and know that a number of simple, short-term solutions could be implemented straight away in order to alleviate traffic on the main arterial roads into the city. For example, proper car-parking areas could be introduced to encourage more car pooling and park and ride facilities. I am sure we have all seen lines of cars parked close to roundabouts at entry points, particularly to the M1. Car parking should have been, and can be, included at the Apple Green stations that are readily placed at strategic locations along the motorway. While the port tunnel works well by taking trucks off the road and straight to their destination, there are major back-ups of trucks on the M1 heading towards the port tunnel. This is at rush hour and thus causes delays. I suggest that sea ferries should operate outside rush hour times. The current departure time of one ferry is 9.30 a.m. and this adds to our gridlock on our roads. We need some form of incentive to get trucks to switch from off-peak times, perhaps allowing them to pass through the various tolls free prior to 6 a.m. We could also stagger school opening times and introduce a range of other short-term measures. I could go on ad infinitum about simple measures, rather than macro ones, but I will allow Deputy Donnelly to come in.

I welcome Deputy Lahart's motion and congratulate him on seeking action in respect of the increasing traffic congestion in Dublin and surrounding counties. In Wicklow the situation is now extreme. Some 70% of the working population leave the county to go to work. As my colleague Deputy Casey said one solution to that is more local jobs. In the meantime, however, something has to be done about the increase in congestion that we are witnessing. The vast majority of those leaving County Wicklow are travelling to Dublin. Whether they are travelling from the east or west of County Wicklow, they just see more and more congestion on a monthly basis.

This is not primarily a planning issue, which is important, but rather it relates to a lack of implementation. Despite numerous promises, Wicklow commuters see no relief on the horizon. The new public transport links are strained to breaking point.

The long-promised extension to the Luas has been kicked so far down the line that it is now probably decades off. Increased capacity for rail is obviously not possible without serious capital investment. The Bus Éireann services, such as the 133, and the Dublin Bus services, such as the 84X, are now regularly filled beyond capacity so people have to use private transport. This, as we know, is coming under huge pressure too. A recent Transport Infrastructure Ireland report indicates that a third lane is needed for the M11 around the Greystones and Bray area, and yet, as the Minister pointed out to me a number of months ago, no funding has been allocated and no funding will be allocated without a review. It is well known that the Minister of State and the Minister, Deputy Ross, work hand in glove together, so I ask him to relay to the Minister that the reviews have now been completed and we would like to see some serious action in terms of capital investment for commuters in Wicklow.

I have a slight problem. There are 14 minutes left and there are two ten minute slots on the order of the House. I have no discretion, but can we come to an accommodation? Does the Minister of State need ten minutes?

I probably do not a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

Hopefully his speech will last five or six minutes.

Will we divide the time into seven minutes each?

The Minister of State could have taken some of the time of the Minister, Deputy Ross, earlier.

At the outset I will start by thanking the contributors to the motion. I particularly thank the rural Deputies who spoke. This is not an either-or situation, as many of them pointed out. It is both rural and urban. As the Minister, Deputy Ross, said earlier, there is no magic bullet for congestion but there is a drive and a determination in Government to respond to the issue. While there are differences of opinion across the House, what we have in common is a commitment to a quality public transport system for the greater Dublin region and a willingness to respond to the challenges posed by increasing congestion.

Transport is an area that impacts on all our lives. Therefore it is important to build consensus regarding how we approach the difficulty. The first step in building consensus is to have a shared understanding politically of what the priorities and objectives should be in terms of tackling congestion in Dublin. Today's discussion has been informative in this regard.

From our perspective, there are a few key issues at the heart of this debate. We cannot discuss transport in Dublin without referring to the availability of funding. While there is common ground, we must bring an element of political realism to the debate regarding the resources available from the Exchequer and how the public transport can be financed. We must accept that the Exchequer does not have limitless resources to fund transport projects or indeed any other infrastructure projects. That does not mean that we jump into public private partnership, PPP, arrangements without understanding the true implications for future capital budgets. It means the projects and programmes we select must be the right ones at the right time. PPPs may have a role in delivering additional transport infrastructure, but we have to be strategic about using them to ensure we properly understand their future implications.

In the interests of moving towards a common consensus today, the House should acknowledge that significant investment has already been made in public transport in the greater Dublin region and that the range and quality of the public transport services has undoubtedly benefited from this investment. Funding continues to be allocated to the National Transport Authority, NTA, to promote public transport use and to improve customer experiences through the use of smart technology. Successful initiatives that have been introduced include the Leap card, real time passenger information and journey planning apps. As regards infrastructure, the Minister, Deputy Ross, noted earlier the Luas cross city and the Phoenix Park tunnel are two important projects which will add capacity to the transport system in the greater Dublin region.

A total of €3.6 billion has been allocated in the capital plan for public transport projects. This will enable a number of Dublin-based projects to be completed or to proceed, including Luas cross city and metro north. There is €800 million allocated in the capital plan for bus measures. These include fleet replacement and enlargement programmes for Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann, bus network infrastructure development and bus rapid transit programmes in the greater Dublin area. Projects funded under the capital plan will fund additional capacity to help meet existing and future commuter needs.

I fully accept that projects funded under the capital plan will not solve the congestion problem facing Dublin in isolation. However, combined with quick win projects already funded such as the Phoenix Park tunnel, additional bus fleet and infrastructure and small-scale interventions on the M50, we can at least acknowledge that they will go some way towards meeting the existing and future levels of transport demand in the region. The delivery of these projects on the ground helps to create momentum and allows the travelling public to see the benefits of the correct types of investment and the correct approach. I echo what the Minister, Deputy Ross, said earlier regarding the need for a step change in the public transport system across the greater Dublin region to tackle congestion and increasing levels of demand. This requires a corresponding change in funding.

Another issue at the heart of the debate is the long-term strategy and vision for public transport in the Dublin region. I mentioned at the start of my speech that to build consensus, we should have a shared understanding of the priorities and objectives for transport in Dublin. I assure the House that there is a long-term vision for transport in the Dublin region. The NTA's transport strategy, which was adopted last year, sets out a clear vision and a statutory basis for transport planning in the region. Given the planning and design requirements as well as the very significant capital investment requirements, it will not be possible to deliver many of the large-scale projects set out in the transport strategy in the short to medium term, notwithstanding the long-term merits of these projects. We must be realistic, therefore, about how we can effectively tackle congestion in the near term.

We must look to the bus network in the short to medium term to deliver the step change in the performance required of our public transport system to cater for growing demand. The bus-centred initiative to be launched by the NTA at the end of this month will seek to transform the bus system in the Dublin region within the overall framework of the long-term transport strategy for the region. The initiative will capitalise on the role of the bus as the cornerstone of the public transport system in the Dublin region. A shared understanding of what is proposed is as important for the public as it is for this House. Like the Minister, I will be urging members of the public to get involved in the consultation process for the proposed transformation of the bus system in Dublin. Fundamentally, the initiative will result in a revamped bus system that will deliver faster journeys, with more certainty of arrival times; deliver a high quality of service which is punctual and reliable; provide an attractive alternative to many existing car users; provide passengers with more journey options; and allow for the transition to use of low emission vehicles.

This is the vision for Dublin that we should be working towards for the short to medium term. The NTA's transport strategy sets out the priorities and objectives for the long term, but an incremental approach is needed to reach our long-term objectives. A transformative programme of investment in the bus system in Dublin provides the best chance to tackle growing congestion now before it significantly impacts on the future economic recovery of the area.

I thank the Deputies in the House for raising this important issue and contributing to our shared understanding of the issues around the Dublin region. It has been a worthwhile debate that has brought a number of important issues to the fore, particularly in relation to the cost of congestion, growing evidence of increasing levels of congestion, funding availability, projects that have already been planned and those that are under way, and the imminent launch of the NTA's bus transformation initiative. I will be following and supporting the roll-out of the bus transformation initiative with interest. There is potential to adopt a similar approach in other cities, especially the regional centres referred to earlier where the growth in travel demand is becoming an increasing problem. We must start in Dublin where the need to address congestion is most acute. The counter-motion is a fair statement of Government's position. We have established a way forward to respond to the congestion issue. It is now time to get on with the task in hand.

Before I commend the counter-motion to the House I would like to say that many of the problems we are facing in terms of congestion are direct results of the economic recovery in the State, which is leading to problems. As commuters, I and other Deputies coming from rural constituencies have experienced these problems. None of us is saying the issues in Dublin do not need to be addressed. What I am saying is along the lines of what Deputies McGrath and Healy-Rae have said, that this is not an either-or situation. We have to take a whole-island approach to this. While Dublin is the capital city, it is no less or more important than any of the other centres throughout the country.

I thank the Minister of State for his co-operation. There are seven minutes left which are to be divided into two one and a half minute sections and a four minute section.

As a Wexford Deputy representing a county with a significant number of commuters who use the N11-M11 every day to get to and from Dublin, I am all too aware of the difficulties these commuters face. Commuting impacts commuters' mental health, their family life, their social life and their economic well-being. People are stuck in traffic when they should be at home with their families or in work. I welcome the acknowledgment this week that a third lane is badly needed on the N11-M11 roadway to tackle increased traffic congestion, as reported by TII this week. It was a long-awaited report.

The Government is failing Wexford in its job strategy, leaving the county with one of the highest rates of unemployment and forcing people to commute to Dublin for work. The Government is failing in its housing strategy in Dublin, forcing people to leave Dublin to come to counties like Wexford to seek housing, thus adding to the commuting problem. The Government is failing in its transport policy by not having one.

Some 80% of our goods are exported across the Continent of Europe via the UK land bridge. These include perishable goods such as pharmaceuticals, agrifood and livestock. These sectors are vital to our economic well-being. When a hard Brexit happens, that land bridge will be gone. We have to find another way to get our 80% of goods to the Continent, particularly those perishable goods. The only suitable alternative route is through Rosslare Europort, yet the Minister continues to fail to publish the Indecon report and refuses to set out a pathway for Rosslare Europort. Despite all these issues, the Minister is also prepared to stand by while CIE threatens to close the Dublin-Rosslare Europe service south of Gorey.

In the interests of commuters, regional balance relating to areas like Wexford and our economy post Brexit, I ask the Minister to bring forward a proper infrastructural plan.

I represent north Kildare, which along with the rest of Kildare and counties Louth, Wicklow and Meath, is said to be the commuter belt. Someone said that Naas in Kildare is the buckle on that belt. It is pretty much the centre of the commuter belt with huge numbers from the county travelling to Dublin daily for work and most of the country passing through the N4 and N7 to get to Dublin so it is very much steeped in commuting and private and public transport. It is estimated that between 60,000 to 80,000 vehicles travel the N7 daily along with commuters coming in from Sallins, Celbridge, Leixlip, Maynooth and Kilcock train stations and those travelling on buses from Prosperous, Clane and Naas along with private transport along the N4 and N7.

As has been already said, what is lacking is a big picture - a vision. We do not have a transport policy, as Deputy Browne noted. A 30-year transport strategy was published as the Government took office. There was barely a hint in it of any kind of connectivity in respect of projects like the interconnector, metro north, metro west or the outer orbital route for the M50. There is no joining of the dots. We have multiple routes. If people want to get into the city centre and back out again, they can do it - albeit very tortuously and slowly - making their way through traffic jams. If they need to go from A to B and up to C, it is far more difficult. We need to put in place a basic transport infrastructure of the kind that every other capital city of its type in the world has. We are lacking in it. The Fianna Fáil plan was mentioned earlier. This plan, which was called Transport 21, was actually a fine plan. If we could revisit it now, we would be well served. I urge the Minister to take this motion seriously and I commend my colleague for tabling it.

I thank all Deputies who contributed to Private Members' business this evening. We are all agreed that congestion in Dublin and indeed across many of our cities is having a detrimental impact on economic activity and the family life and mental health of so many commuters. According to the Minister, this is costing our economy €350 million per annum. Can Members imagine how many infrastructural projects could be developed if that money was spent on infrastructure? As a party that invested in Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport, expanded the M50 from four to six lanes, constructed the initial two Luas lines and invested in rail improvements, we are delighted to give Members across all parties the opportunity to speak to this motion this evening.

This motion is not about pitting Dublin against the rest of Ireland. It is about how Dublin needs to be addressed as a capital city. Deputy Eamon Ryan criticised Fianna Fáil because for some reason he thinks Dublin Chamber of Commerce should not be given a voice in this debate. Dublin Chamber of Commerce represents retailers who generate employment for up 300,000 people. If, as is suggested in this motion, the transport advisory group was adopted, it would give a voice to a range of stakeholders.

What is critically important is the lack of investment over the past number of years in public transport and road infrastructure. The past number of years has seen Ireland fall down to the second lowest level of investment in this critical infrastructure in Europe. Only Romania is behind us. This Government has failed to make a case to the European Commission for greater flexibility in the fiscal rules when it comes to investing in critical transport projects. The Juncker plan is there. A total of €500 billion can be availed of at unprecedented low interest rates. A total of 10% of this plan has been already been drawn down for critical transport infrastructural projects but where is that 10% of the plan being drawn down? It is being drawn down in every country other than Ireland. We have not applied for one cent of this fund to invest in any infrastructural projects across this country. If we applied for funding under this fund, we could invest in improving public transport, including DART and commuter rail expansion and increased capacity and reliability. We could offer better access to well-serviced commuter and inter-regional rail for commuters because that would be central to reducing car dependency.

The Minister talks about the new bus policy that will appear at the end of this month. I will welcome the publication of that and we will definitely engage in that just as we engaged in and made a comprehensive submission to the national rail review. However, the worrying thing is, which was alluded to by one of the previous speakers, is that the Minister never saw fit to conduct a public transport policy review in advance of the review of the capital plan. It is a case of seeing what crumbs from the table we will get from the capital plan and adjusting our transport policy accordingly. We should publish an integrated national transport plan and the Minister should fight at Cabinet level to ensure the necessary funding is put in place to have a national integrated transport plan. We should not devise a plan based on the level of funding that is available. I call on Members to support this motion but, more importantly, I ask the Minister to ensure that he avails of the funding that is there at European level to invest in our public transport because without investment in public transport, it will not be fit for purpose.

Amendment put.

In accordance with Standing Order 70(2) and the report of the Business Committee dated 4 May 2017, the division is postponed until the weekly division time on Thursday, 18 May 2017.