The Road Safety Authority, RSA, has statutory responsibility for the delivery of the NCT. The contract the RSA has in place with Applus+ to carry out the NCT requires that specific standards in a number of areas be met, including customer waiting times, customer satisfaction and test integrity. I understand this contract sets out specific penalties for not meeting performance requirements which the RSA continually monitors.
Both the testing system and vehicle inspectors are subject to a stringent audit system. All test centres frequently receive unannounced visits and vehicle inspectors are observed undertaking tests and check tests, which involve vehicles just tested being immediately re-inspected. These show that over 99% of tests are correctly assessed.
The NCTS is currently providing a seven-day-a-week service with late openings at least three days a week to 10 p.m. at all centres. Twenty-four hour testing is provided at Northpoint and Deansgrange centres in Dublin. A third shift is in place at Enniscorthy, Ballina, Galway, Kells and Drogheda which provides testing from 7 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. four days per week.
I am informed that the average waiting time for a full test during October was 9.25 days. Retests requiring the use of test equipment are facilitated within three days and visual retests are available without appointment. There is currently no backlog at the NCTS.
The NCTS is planning to increase testing facilities further with the provision of new test centres at a number of locations due to come into operation in the first half of 2016. A total of 588 vehicle inspectors are employed and a further 26 will be available at the start of next year, the highest total number in the history of the NCT.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
Regarding retests, only road safety related fail items require retesting. The main fail items in 2014 were suspension, tyre condition, brakes, stop lamps and headlamp aim. These are not minor items and it is in the interest of road safety that such items are working correctly. Retests not requiring the use of a test lane are provided free of charge and without appointment.