My Department is responsible for the implementation of 54 specific commitments in the Programme for Government: Our Shared Future and it also plays a critical role in supporting other commitments. Many actions are being rolled out under the Climate Action Plan and will be supported by the Revised National Development Plan (NDP).
Good progress has been made on these key commitments, with many policy achievements and initiatives undertaken in 2021, including agreement for ambitious actions and targets agreed for the transport sector to reduce emissions by between 42% and 50% by 2030. My Department also secured €35 billion for the sector under the Revised National Development Plan, which will allow my Department to support 500,000 extra daily walking, cycling and public transport journeys by 2030.
To support this ambition, great strides were made this year in the advancement of BusConnects in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick. Many significant transport infrastructure projects were progressed including the Dart +West project, which was given approval by Government to enter the planning system earlier this month.
In terms or rural and regional connectivity, and in addition to the launch of Connecting Ireland, new Local Link services were provided in Leitrim, Laois-Offaly and Tipperary.
Good work has also been achieved on a new Sustainable Mobility Policy Framework, which my Department is currently finalising. Stakeholder and citizen engagement has been a big feature of my Department’s work this year, with many consultations underway including an All-Island Strategic Rail Review.
In terms of accessibility, 'The Big Lift' upgrade and maintenance programme for railway stations achieved lift upgrades in twenty-two stations across the network in 2021. In relation to taxis, the 2021 Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle grant scheme received 746 applications by mid-November.
My Department also published a number of policies and programmes including
the Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030, a new Regional Airports Programme 2021-2025, as well as a Covid-19 Regional State Airports Programme 2021. A Five Cities Demand Management Study was also published in November.
In 2022, my Department will also deliver a number of important policy initiatives. A few examples of the many being progressed include:
- The establishment of the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), as recommended by the Report of the Electric Vehicle Policy Pathway Working Group.
- The completion and publication of the Department’s EV Charging Infrastructure Strategy.
- Continued implementation of the wide-ranging transport actions in the Climate Action Plan 2021 and the
EU’s Fit for 55 Proposals
- The introduction of a Youth Travel Card which will allow any person between the age of 19 and 23 to avail of an entitlement for discounted travel costs to an average discount of 50% across the transport network and promote modal shift in the transport sector among this group.
- Enhanced public transport service provision via a Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan, New Town Services, and the Accessibility Retrofit Programme
- Legislative developments in the areas of merchant shipping, aviation regulation, rail and road safety.
- Work on the revision of the National Aviation Policy
- Continued investment in the protection and renewal of the road network together the implementation of targeted road improvement schemes
- Completion of the Ten-Year Strategy for the Haulage Sector.