Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Ceisteanna (317)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

317. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Transport if he will consider providing an online test option for the significant backlog of persons waiting to do their driver theory test given the current public health restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18589/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The extension of Covid-19 level 5 restrictions by Government means that the Driver Theory Test continues to be suspended. While I fully appreciate the inconvenience this poses, I must emphasise, that this decision has been taken in line with official public health recommendations that everyone in Ireland work to limit the spread of the virus by staying at home in so far as is possible and minimising social contacts.

Officials both in this Department and in the Road Safety Authority are keeping the public health situation under constant review and are working extremely hard to ensure that Theory Tests can resume as soon as it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, t he RSA is engaging with its service provider to examine ways of increasing the number of tests within the current health constraints for when services resume. In this regard, the aim is to double capacity at test centres over a three-month period.

Normal capacity before the pandemic was approximately 15,000 tests per month. When the service reopened in June 2020, this was increased to 25,000 to deal with the backlog which had developed by that point. Based on the capacity of 25,000 tests per month, the aim is to provide an additional 25,000 tests per month on top of this for the first 3 months of reopening, or a total of 75,000 extra test appointments over the three-month period. This would make substantial inroads into numbers waiting over that time period.

In addition to the increased capacity initiative, the RSA is working to deliver an online driver theory test service. The online service has been trialled on a pilot basis for those taking a theory test for trucks and buses and is now being evaluated with a view to extending the online service to all test types during 2021 However, scaling up operations to facilitate higher numbers will take time to achieve.