I propose to take Questions Nos. 20, 22, 24, 36 and 56 together.
As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has the statutory responsibility for the regulation of fares in relation to public passenger transport services.
The NTA also has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public transport services by way of public transport services contracts in respect of services that are socially necessary but commercially unviable.
The funding of those services comprises fares paid by passengers and subvention payments from the Exchequer. The main purpose of the subvention payment is to meet the gap between income from fares and the cost of operating services.
The BusConnects programme for Dublin will see the transformation of Dublin's bus system, so that journeys by bus will be fast, reliable, punctual, convenient and affordable. Part of this programme is to simplify the fares structure, to encourage interchange between services and modes of travel and to reduce boarding times. A revised fare structure is required for transport in the city which will easily allow seamless movement between different transport services without financial penalty.
The NTA points out in its recently published Fares Determination document that its fares determination adjusts fares both upwards and downwards, ensuring that the travelling public pays a fare relative to the distance they travel, such that the operators are in a position to provide a safe and reliable service.
The National Planning Framework commits to provide public transport infrastructure and services to meet the needs of smaller urban centres and rural areas. It also commits to provide a quality nationwide community-based public transport system in rural Ireland which responds to local needs under the Rural Transport Network and similar initiatives.
The National Development Plan (NDP) 2018-2027 was published alongside the National Planning Framework. While the NDP is a capital investment plan, it recognises the importance of investment in public transport services outside of the cities and commits to continued investment in such services over the lifetime of the NDP. Subject to the availability of operational funding support, it is intended to introduce new town bus services in certain large towns to enable their development growth and provide a public transport option for residents and visitors.
Modal shift from the private car to sustainable means of transport remains central to the transport sector’s response to climate change. Investment in public transport led to an increase of almost 31 million journeys on subsidised public transport and commercial bus service since 2013, with an increase
of 16 million passengers in 2017 (a 7% rise on 2016 figures) with a further increase of 6.2% to 4 November 2018, across all public transport services.
As Deputies are aware, in order to reduce the prevalence of the private car and encourage a shift to more sustainable forms of transport, a number of key policy measures to increase public transport capacity will be progressed over the next decade. The National Development Plan has earmarked €8.6 billion for investment in public and sustainable transport to 2027.
I have referred the Deputies questions to the NTA for reply in relation to those aspects where it has statutory responsibility. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.