The Deputy and I are in complete agreement in welcoming the work completed so far in developing a draft Cork metropolitan area transport strategy and engaging with the public on that draft to hear their views. Its ambition fits within the framework created by Project Ireland 2040, namely, building a better and more sustainable Ireland.
The Deputy will acknowledge that the strategy is not yet finalised or adopted by the local authorities, because the views gathered from the very recent public consultation are still under consideration. Equally, the Deputy will acknowledge that the strategy in its draft form proposes a range of significant measures to improve sustainable mobility in Cork. The plan contains short-term, medium-term and longer-term proposals for delivering the strategy’s overall ambition.
Project Ireland 2040 currently contains funding for projects over the next decade, including projects in Cork which will see improvements to Cork’s bus infrastructure and active travel infrastructure, as well as some important improvements to the road network. Increases in public service obligation, PSO funding in recent years have already allowed for notable bus service improvements in Cork, such as the introduction of Ireland’s first 24-hour PSO bus service, which I understand has been a great success. Funding is available to support the implementation of those proposed shorter-term measures.
However, as I mentioned, the draft strategy as published for public consultation looks to the future, beyond the current ten-year Project Ireland 2040 funding horizon. That is exactly the type of long-term planning we need and is perhaps something we have not been successful in doing in the past. That long-term funding horizon will be considered as part of the mid-term review of Project Ireland 2040. When we come to that review, the medium and longer-term requirements of Cork will be set out in the finalised strategy and will inform our overall funding requirements for the next ten years.
I look forward to the finalisation of the Cork metropolitan area transport strategy in November, its adoption by the local authorities and to working with those local authorities in its implementation over the course of the next 20 years.