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Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 21 July 2020

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Ceisteanna (155)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

155. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the supports, subsidies and emergency funding measures given to Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann; the date on which the supports were given; the further supports planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16863/20]

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 Exchequer allocates funding for the purposes of both capital and current expenditure from the Department's Vote to the National Transport Authority (NTA) for allocation to the transport operators for the provision of public transport services and infrastructure. In Budget 2020, an overall allocation of €1 billion was secured to fund public and sustainable transport projects this year.

Since 2010, the award of Public Service Obligation (PSO) funding falls under the independent statutory remit of the NTA. The allocations to the companies are decided by the NTA in exercise of its statutory mandate and in accordance with the various contract arrangements that it has in place with PSO service providers.

The sharp decline in passenger numbers since mid-March this year as a result of the Covid-19 health emergency has caused an unprecedented fall in fare revenues, thus creating a wide gap between the operators' costs and actual revenues. This has put acute pressure on the existing Public Service Obligation (PSO) budget. In response to this situation, and in recognition of the role of public transport as an essential service and in facilitating the Government's Roadmap for Re-opening Society and Business, on 4 June the Government decided to make a substantial increase to the 2020 total PSO allocation, in order to enable the continuation of PSO services for the full year.

The Deputy may also be aware that on 25 June the Government agreed to a temporary funding supports, in accordance with EU and national legislation, for the licensed bus sector. These supports are aimed at ensuring the continued operation of essential licensed bus services for a period of up to six months. The package will be restricted to operators where a clear public interest justification supports such intervention and will be targeted at compensating the gap between specified costs and the revenues generated on the services. The NTA, as the public transport licensing agency, is responsible for administering funding support through the establishment of contracts between the NTA and the relevant operators.

These measures are, of course, additional to the wider programme of Government supports introduced for impacted businesses, including new schemes of wage subsidies, rates waivers, restart grants, lending facilities, equity injection, and business advisory supports for example.

In view of the above and the NTA's role in allocating transport funding to individual transport operators, I have referred the Deputy's questions to the NTA for direct reply. I ask him to inform my private office if he does not receive a reply within ten days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51.
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