I propose to take Questions Nos. 218 and 221 together.
As the Deputy is aware, congestion is a challenging issue and the responses required are multifaceted and will comprise short, medium and longer term actions.
At a central Government level, I know we need to provide a sound policy framework and ensure the availability of appropriate funding to allow for an expansion of public transport services and networks, and that includes those services and networks within the Greater Dublin Area (GDA).
So that is why I have provided funding to the National Transport Authority (NTA) to introduce measures such as –
- Expanded PSO bus fleet, which has grown by approximately 17% in recent years;
- Increased and improved PSO bus services across the GDA;
- 10 minute DART services;
- Increased usage of the Phoenix Park Tunnel for Kildare Line commuters;
- Expanded off-peak services generally across the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) rail network; and
- Introduced longer trams on the newly extended Luas Green Line.
In the medium term I am providing funding to the NTA to –
- Continue to expand the GDA PSO bus fleet which will increase again this year;
- Deliver new and improved cycling and walking infrastructure, with a number of important projects starting construction this year;
- Complete the City Centre Re-signalling Project which will benefit GDA rail services
- Explore, and secure, medium term solutions to capacity constraints on the rail network; and
- Extend all trams on the Luas Green Line and purchase 8 additional trams and I expect these extended trams will begin to arrive by Q4 this year.
The Deputy may also be aware that my Department is undertaking a review of public transport policy in line with the commitment given in the Programme for a Partnership Government. This review is a significant and substantial resource commitment and my Department has commenced, and substantially completed, the research and analysis required to inform the proposed period of public consultation which I expect to launch in the near future. The issue of congestion will of course be among the issues to be raised during that consultation and I look forward to hearing the Deputy’s views on potential solutions as part of that process
In the longer term, I am of course working with my Government colleagues in delivering upon the ambition of Project Ireland 2040 and its National Strategic Objectives of Compact Growth and Sustainable Mobility, both of which can alleviate congestion issues. Delivery of major, transformative projects such as BusConnects, DART Expansion and MetroLink will have a major role to play in making Dublin a more sustainable place to live in, work in, or even just to visit.
In relation to specific traffic management issues within the GDA, the Deputy is presumably aware that the NTA has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area and the effective management of traffic and transport demand in the region. It is the NTA that interacts with the local authorities on such matters, in line with that statutory remit.
I have therefore referred the Deputy's questions to the NTA for further information in relation to traffic management and relevant meetings. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.