Public transport - bus, rail and taxi - accounts for a little over 1% of Ireland’s overall non-emissions trading scheme carbon emissions and less than one 20th of the emissions from the transport sector. Accordingly, the impact on reducing national CO2 emissions of converting public transport to lower emitting fleets will be limited, though positive and important. Nevertheless, I believe in the leadership benefit of this move to low emission alternatives for public transport. The change will help to promote and normalise the use of non-conventional, lower emitting fuels and technologies.
A clear trajectory towards low emissions has been firmly established in the urban bus fleet. In the short term, we are committed under Project Ireland 2040 to no longer purchasing diesel only buses for the urban public bus fleet from this month onwards. Consequently, the NTA recently initiated a tender competition to award a framework agreement for the supply of double-deck diesel-electric hybrid buses. To help inform a longer-term bus procurement strategy, my Department, together with the NTA, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann, has undertaken a comprehensive series of low emission bus trials, which will be reported upon shortly. Findings from this trial, alongside EU public fleet procurement requirements set out in the clean vehicles directive, together with ongoing market analysis and research, will collectively inform the NTA's approach to its bus purchase programme in the years ahead. I expect that half of the public urban bus fleet will have moved to lower emitting alternatives by 2023, with full conversion by 2030.
On the number of low emitting buses on order and to be delivered, I understand that the NTA’s recent framework agreement has indicated that up to 600 buses could be purchased over its duration. The framework will run for 30 months, with the option to extend by up to a further 30 months. The figure of 600 is only indicative and the exact number of vehicles to be purchased will be decided by the NTA annually in line with replacement requirements, capacity needs and funding availability, as well as taking account of developments in other low emitting technologies.
It might also interest the Deputy to note that a similar comprehensive programme of work is well under way to move the commuter rail fleet to low emitting alternatives. We plan to electrify important, heavily used elements of the rail network by creating a full metropolitan area DART network for the greater Dublin area, which is the part of the national rail network that carries over 75% of total rail passengers each year. It will mean high-frequency electrified rail services to Drogheda, Celbridge-Hazelhatch, Maynooth and M3 Parkway, as well as new interchange stations with bus, Luas and metro networks. The NTA and Iarnród Éireann recently commenced a procurement process for the establishment of a ten-year framework agreement for the purchase of the additional lower emitting rail fleet required for this expansion of the DART network.
Collectively, these measures will reduce the carbon footprint of the public transport fleet.