Public Transport

Ceisteanna (525)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

525. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the considerable capacity issues across the public transport system; and the steps he will take in the short to medium-term to address same. [39777/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, the continued economic growth and increased employment levels have seen demand increase across the public transport networks and particularly in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). 

Project Ireland 2040 commits over €8 billion to public transport and active travel projects over the next 10 years.  This investment will transform our public transport network and enable more people choose sustainable mobility as their preferred mode of transport.

This increased level of investment allows for a range of short, medium and longer term responses as the Deputy has referred.

In the short term, the size of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) bus fleet has increased and that, together with service improvements, has meant increased and improved service provision. This is a significant development as the bus is by far the most important part of our public transport network.

On the Luas network, the first of the extensions to the Luas Green Line fleet has entered service with the remaining 25 extensions set to enter service on a rolling basis from now on. Next year will also see delivery of the 8 additional trams that have been ordered as part of the Luas Green Line Capacity Enhancement Project.

On rail while there have been improvements introduced last year in peak-time services, and this year in off-peak services, there are two fundamental constraints, namely the need to physically expand the fleet through the purchase of additional carriages and also the need to improve the overall management of the network.

And I am pleased to say there is progress underway in relation to both.  In relation to the fleet, a business case for the purchase of 41 additional InterCity Railcars is currently under consideration by my Department in line with the Public Spending Code.  That business case will be submitted to Government for its approval and it is expected that the new fleet will be delivered by 2021.

Separately, in May this year the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Iarnród Éireann commenced pre-qualifying in relation to a 10-year procurement framework for electric and battery-electric units which will massively expand the fleet.

In the summer, the Government approved the development of a new National Train Control Centre and contracts on this are expected to be awarded before the end of the year.

In the medium and longer term, the Deputy will acknowledge the on-going development of BusConnects, DART Expansion and MetroLink each of which will transform the capacity of the relevant public transport modes and create better linkages between them too.

I would hope that the Deputy can see that there are a range of measures underway to improve our public transport network and services.  

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (526)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

526. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on whether the transport system, most notably at major entry and exit points, is adequately prepared for the ramifications of a no-deal Brexit. [39778/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Government has extensive preparations in place for a possible no-deal Brexit on 31 October 2019. In its Action Plan published in July 2019, the Government acknowledged that a no deal Brexit will be highly disruptive and will have profound implications across all aspects of society. It will be impossible for the UK to maintain the current seamless arrangements with the EU across the full range of sectors including transport connectivity, trade flows and supply chains.

The contingency plans in place, including in the transport sector, will mitigate but cannot eliminate the impacts of a no-deal Brexit.

The re-introduction of customs or border controls as a consequence of Brexit will undoubtedly increase transit times for all traffic travelling via or from the UK to Continental Europe, including for many Irish importers and exporters. The three locations for which Ireland is heavily dependent on connectivity to the UK are Dublin Port, Dublin Airport and Rosslare Europort.

The Office of Public Works has worked across Government with relevant agencies and Departments in delivering the required facilities for these agriculture, health and customs checks at these locations. Temporary facilities are now in place to meet the needs of these agencies.   Additional staffing in Customs, Agriculture and Health have been recruited and trained to provide the necessary support and to manage the efficient movement of freight and people through these locations.  

The necessary associated staffing and IT systems are also in place. I understand that testing of the relevant IT systems is continuing. Communications with stakeholders is ongoing and will continue during October 2019.

My Department is also working closely with other agencies to have appropriate traffic management plans in place in the event that there is significant congestion in Dublin Port that impacts on wider traffic flows in the surrounding road network.  

In relation to wider transport systems and services, the EU has adopted time-limited measures to ensure basic transport connectivity with the UK in the event of a no deal Brexit. The temporary measures cover air transport connectivity to end March 2020, road freight connectivity to 31 December 2019 as well as cross-border bus connectivity, also to 31 December 2019. The EU is currently looking at proposals to extend these arrangements to 24 October 2020 for aviation, and to 31 July 2020 for internal haulage and cross-border bus services.

In relation to rail, Iarnród Éireann and Northern Ireland Railways are working together to ensure the Enterprise service will continue to run post Brexit.       

There are concerns about potential disruption to the UK Landbridge immediately after the UK exit. My Department, along with the Irish Maritime Development Office, has met with all the main ferry companies and has been assured that sufficient capacity exists on alternative direct routes to continental EU ports, and should the demand for additional capacity arise as a result of Brexit, the shipping companies can respond.   It is recognised though that these longer direct routes may not be a suitable alternative for all goods, particularly time-sensitive products.

Driver Licences

Ceisteanna (527)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

527. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has engaged with his Cabinet colleagues and UK counterparts to ensure that returning emigrants that hold UK licences will continue to be able to swap their licences for an Irish driver licence even in the event of a no-deal Brexit. [39779/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Motorists resident in Ireland with a UK, including NI driving licence are being advised to exchange that licence for an Irish driving licence before the 31 October 2019.  In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK will no longer be a Member State and so the UK driving licence will not be recognised. People resident in Ireland will no longer be able to drive on a UK driving licence.

However, legislation exists to allow for the recognition of foreign driving licences for exchange purposes in the Road Traffic Acts.  If there is a no deal Brexit, the UK becomes a 3rd country and the potential then exists for arrangements to be made under those Acts.  Ireland will be pursuing this option.  This may take a little time to complete as it involves a formal agreement and legislation here in Ireland, as well as corresponding steps by the UK. 

Anti-Social Behaviour

Ceisteanna (528)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

528. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has considered establishing a transport security unit to tackle widespread and dangerous antisocial behaviour on public transport and at public transport hubs. [39780/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The safety and security of public transport passengers and staff, including arrangements to deal with anti-social behaviour, are important matters that, first and foremost, must be managed by every public transport company, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, where appropriate.

While the vast majority of public transport passenger journeys occur without incident, I am concerned to ensure that the necessary arrangements are in place to ensure the safety of all passengers and staff. 

Following representations from the National Bus and Rail Union, my Department wrote to the three CIÉ companies to get their views on the issue of anti-social behaviour and ensuring the safety of both passengers and staff.  All companies stressed their strong and close working relationships with An Garda Síochána.  

I also wrote to the Minister for Justice and Equality to seek his views on how we could address the issue of anti-social behaviour on our public transport system. The allocation of all Garda resources, including the manner in which Garda personnel are deployed, is solely a decision for the Garda Commissioner and his management team.

I understand that An Garda Síochána met with the Railway Safety Advisory Council (RSAC) in relation to the issue of anti-social behaviour on our public transport network and that further engagement and initiatives are planned. Following that engagement, I note and welcome the recent deployment of gardaí to public transport locations and to DART, Luas and commuter rail services under ‘Operation Twintrack’.

Irish Rail has advised that it has undertaken a range of measures and proposes further measures to address anti-social behaviour on the rail network, including increased security personnel, allowing for a doubling of security patrols, the introduction of Customer Service Officers on all Intercity routes and enhanced CCTV coverage. 

A new text alert service has also been introduced to enable customers to discretely report anti-social behaviour incidents and allow security personnel and/or Gardaí to be alerted and dispatched as required to an incident. The entire Intercity fleet is also equipped with CCTV and with communications buttons at doors.

Iarnród Éireann's annual spend on security has risen from €4.1 million in 2017 to €4.5 million in 2018 and it is projected by the company that its spend on security will rise again this year to €4.7 million.

Both Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann have reported that the level of anti-social behaviour is relatively low on their services and noted a declining trend, which is positive. Following a recent serious incident at Busáras, Bus Éireann has introduced more stringent security measures at the station with a view to combatting increased levels of anti-social behaviour at the site.

Roads Maintenance Funding

Ceisteanna (529)

Pat Buckley

Ceist:

529. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if Cork County Council has made applications to the safety improvement grants scheme for 2020; and the details of these applications especially relating to Rostellan and the R630 in east County Cork. [39804/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants.  The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the Council.

My Department has invited applications from local authorities for the 2020 Safety Improvement Scheme.  Cork County Council has not submitted its application as yet.

Allocations for 2020 will be decided as part of the general grant allocation process. 

Rail Services Data

Ceisteanna (530, 534)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

530. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of reported incidents of antisocial behaviour on Irish Rail services in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39822/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

534. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of reported incidents of antisocial behaviour on DART services in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39826/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 530 and 534 together.

As the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

The safety and security of public transport passengers and staff, including arrangements to deal with anti-social behaviour, are important matters that, first and foremost, must be managed by every public transport company, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, where appropriate.

The issue raised is an operational matter for Iarnród Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's questions to the company for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Bus Éireann Services

Ceisteanna (531)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

531. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of reported incidents of antisocial behaviour on Bus Éireann services in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39823/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

The safety and security of public transport passengers and staff, including arrangements to deal with anti-social behaviour, are important matters that, first and foremost, must be managed by every public transport company, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, where appropriate.

The issue raised is an operational matter for Bus Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Dublin Bus Services

Ceisteanna (532)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

532. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of reported incidents of antisocial behaviour on Dublin Bus services in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39824/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

The safety and security of public transport passengers and staff, including arrangements to deal with anti-social behaviour, are important matters that, first and foremost, must be managed by every public transport company, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, where appropriate.

The issue raised is an operational matter for Dublin Bus and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Public Transport Data

Question No. 534 answered with Question No. 530.

Ceisteanna (533)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

533. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of reported incidents of antisocial behaviour on Luas services in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39825/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.

The safety and security of public transport passengers and staff, including arrangements to deal with anti-social behaviour, are important matters that, first and foremost, must be managed by every public transport company, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, where appropriate.

I have therefore forwarded the Deputy's question to Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), which has contracted Transdev to operate the Luas, for their direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Question No. 534 answered with Question No. 530.

Roads Maintenance Funding

Ceisteanna (535)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

535. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if funding is available for the upgrading of roads specifically located along the Wild Atlantic Way; if he will consider upgrading a road (details supplied) in County Donegal due to its significant location along the Wild Atlantic Way in an effort to further develop tourism in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39832/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants.  The  initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is a matter for the Council.  There are no grants under the Regional and Local Roads Grant Programme specifically for roads along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Any road upgrade projects proposed by local authorities for consideration under the Specific or Strategic Grant Programme are assessed by the Department on a case-by-case basis. All projects put forward by local authorities for consideration must comply with the requirements of the Public Spending Code (PSC) and the Department's Capital Appraisal Framework (CAF) and given the limited funding available for road improvement projects Local Authorities need to prioritise schemes with these requirements in mind.

Public Services Card

Ceisteanna (536)

John Brady

Ceist:

536. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his Department sought and received legal advice before removing the public services card as a requirement for certain applications to the National Driver Licence Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39839/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

No formal legal advice was sought from the Office of the Attorney General in respect of this decision.

Road Projects Status

Ceisteanna (537)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

537. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the progress of the northern distributor road from Coonagh Cross to the R445 on the outskirts of Limerick city; the funding allocated to progress the scheme in 2019; the funding indicated for future years in the capital plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39841/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants.  Each local authority is the contracting authority for the purpose of implementation of regional and local road improvement projects.

Under Project Ireland 2040 my Department is committed at present to providing grant funding towards the cost of 12 significant capital road improvement schemes, including the Coonagh to Knockalisheen scheme.   At the start of this year €7.5 million was allocated to the Coonagh scheme which is at land acquisition and tender documentation preparation stage.  €1.67 million of the allocation has been drawn down to date.

The Project Ireland 2040 road improvement projects are managed on a programme basis  with allocations determined on an annual basis depending on progress with individual schemes and taking into account the available capital budget.

Railway Stations

Ceisteanna (538, 539)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

538. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the investigations undertaken by MetroLink, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the National Transport Authority and organisations or individuals employed by these bodies into the feasibility of rerouting sewer lines in the area of the proposed Tara Street station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39852/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

539. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the investigation Dublin City Council, MetroLink, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the National Transport Authority and organisations or individuals employed by these bodies have undertaken in relation to the possible uses and disposal of a proposed vacant site (details supplied) which would be created if the current preferred plan for the Tara Street station were to proceed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39853/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 538 and 539 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 statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including MetroLink.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities on this matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a more detailed reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Bus Services

Ceisteanna (540)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

540. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason certain submissions regarding BusConnects from residents of Mountjoy Square were not considered as part of the consultation process; his views on the concerns of residents regarding the impact of BusConnects on their communities and in relation to the submission process itself; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39856/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

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 statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including BusConnects.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities on this matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a more detailed reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Dublin Bus Services

Ceisteanna (541)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

541. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a review or study has ever been undertaken by Dublin Bus to access the difficulties experienced by commuters in inner suburbs of the city centre with overcrowded buses, many of which originate in distant suburbs; if his attention has been drawn to the frustration for commuters when numerous busses pass by in the morning unable to stop due to being at capacity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39857/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport in Ireland.  The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) in conjunction with Dublin Bus and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Dublin Bus Fleet

Ceisteanna (542)

John Curran

Ceist:

542. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on whether there is ambition in the bus procurement strategy of the NTA for the coming years to transition to zero emission buses rather than low emission diesel hybrid buses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39867/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

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 statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including the procurement of bus fleet.

At a policy level the Deputy will be aware of my Department's Low Emission Bus Trials. These bus trials were carried out between December 2018 and April 2019 and compared 15 different bus models of different technology types across a range of parameters to help determine which low emission technology might be most suitable for the Irish urban PSO bus fleet. It is the findings of these trials, together  with ongoing market analysis and public fleet procurement requirements under the EU Clean Vehicles Directive which will set the policy framework for the NTA's bus procurement strategy.

The NTA will publish that medium-term strategy later this year.  By 2023, I expect that half of the public urban bus fleet in the Greater Dublin Area will be low-emitting, with full conversion expected by 2030.

The NTA's short-term approach to bus procurement reflects the commitment under Project Ireland 2040 to no longer purchase of diesel-only buses for the urban PSO bus fleet, and the NTA plans to purchase hybrid buses as part of its bus replacement programme for the immediate future;  the NTA's forthcoming strategy for the coming years as referred to by the Deputy will be determined by the wider policy considerations that I have indicated.  

Tourism Policy

Ceisteanna (543)

James Browne

Ceist:

543. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to develop the Norman way in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36521/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

My Department's role is primarily in regard to national tourism policy while at an operational level the tourism potential of the various counties and regions is developed by Failte Ireland in line with the relevant tourism experience brands.  In the case of County Wexford, this is Ireland’s Ancient East, which, I believe, has very exciting potential to deliver sustainable growth for tourism in the region, resulting in higher revenue and additional jobs.

I have asked Fáilte Ireland to respond to the Deputy directly with further detail on its work to date on the Norman Way and any plans for its further development.  Please contact my private office if you have not received a reply within ten working days.

Road Projects Expenditure

Ceisteanna (544)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

544. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the full cost for construction and delivery of the M2 to north of Ashbourne, County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39886/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. 

Noting the above position, I have referred the question to TII for a direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.