Header Item Written Answers Nos. 565-583
 Header Item Broadband Service Provision
 Header Item Renewable Energy Feed in Tariff Scheme Applications
 Header Item Broadband Service Provision
 Header Item Road Safety
 Header Item Road Improvement Schemes
 Header Item State Bodies Property
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme
 Header Item Driver Licence Applications
 Header Item Cycling Facilities Funding
 Header Item National Roads Authority Projects
 Header Item Road Projects Status
 Header Item Maritime Safety
 Header Item Cycling Policy
 Header Item Cycling Policy
 Header Item Cycling Facilities Provision
 Header Item Cycling Facilities Provision
 Header Item Bus Éireann Staff
 Header Item Bus Services
 Header Item Electric Vehicles

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 924 No. 1
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 91 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 565-583

Broadband Service Provision

 565. Deputy Mick Barry Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten the steps his Department will take to ensure broadband services will be provided in an area in correspondence (details supplied). [29707/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery of the NBP as a matter of priority. This is being achieved through private investment by commercial telecommunications companies and through a State intervention in areas where commercial investment is not forthcoming.

  The procurement process aims to identify an entity or entities to build, rollout, operate and deliver high speed broadband of at least 30 Mbps upload and 6 Mbps download speeds to all premises within the intervention area.

The High Speed Broadband Map, which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie shows the extent of the State Intervention area:

  - The areas marked BLUE represent those areas where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have previously indicated plans to deliver high speed broadband services.

  - The areas marked AMBER on the High Speed Broadband Map represent the target areas for the State Intervention which are the subject of the current procurement process.

  The map provides information on a county by county basis with a breakdown of coverage across the townlands in every county including County Cork. As you are aware, individuals can check whether their premises is in a BLUE or an AMBER area by scrolling through the map online or entering their Eircode. I note that the property in question is in the BLUE area, which means that it should be provided with services from commercial operators. While I cannot compel any operator to provide services to a particular premises or area, my Department is currently examining deployment plans in the BLUE area. Direct feedback from consumers is an important part of this process and I thank the Deputy for bringing this matter to my attention. Where commercial deployment is not forthcoming, the Department may include these premises in the procurement process. When this examination is complete I expect to make a decision on this matter, and I will keep the Deputy informed of developments.

  The Department is now in a formal procurement process to select a company or companies who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network to the over 750,000 premises in Ireland, covering 100,000 km of road network and 96% of the land area of Ireland. Since bidders were invited to participate in dialogue with the Department, there have been well over 100 hours of meetings, with considerable more interaction to follow over the coming months.

  Since the procurement commenced in December 2015, the contract award timeline is being kept under constant review to ensure that this is robust and delivers effectively and it became apparent earlier this year that further time was needed and this was communicated publically before the Department entered into dialogue with bidders. The timing of each stage of the procurement continues to be dependent on a range of factors including the complexities that may be encountered by the procurement team, and bidders, during the procurement process. Bidders need adequate time to prepare detailed proposals and their final formal bids and get the relevant shareholder and funding approvals at key stages of the process. It is also important to ensure that risks in this multi-million euro procurement are carefully managed. I do not propose to comment any further at this juncture, given the sensitivity of discussions in the procurement process. I can assure the Deputy however, that the procurement process is being intensively managed, to ensure an outcome that delivers a future-proofed network that serves homes and businesses across Ireland, for at least 25 years.

  As part of the Department's extensive stakeholder consultations in 2015, telecommunications service providers indicated that it could take 3-5 years to rollout a network of the scale envisaged under the NBP. It is however open to bidder(s) to suggest more aggressive timescales as part of their bids. As part of the competitive process, the Department will engage with winning bidder(s) on the best rollout strategy, in order to target areas of particularly poor service, business needs and/or high demand. This will need to be balanced with the most efficient network rollout plan. A prioritisation programme will be put in place in this regard, in consultation with the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. A detailed rollout plan for the network will be published once contract(s) are in place.

  The Programme for Government also commits to measures to assist in the rollout of the network once a contract is awarded. In this regard, Minister Humphreys is leading on the establishment of two regional action groups, working with Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Offices and other relevant agencies to help accelerate the broadband network build in rural Ireland, once a contract(s) has been awarded.

  In the meantime, my Department continues to liaise closely with industry and relevant other Departments and agencies to assist in the commercial deployment of telecommunications networks. The commercial telecommunications sector has invested over €2bn in upgrading and modernising networks which support the provision of high speed broadband and mobile telecoms services. These investments will further improve the coverage and quality of broadband and mobile voice and data services throughout the country.

  In line with commitments in the Programme for Government I established a Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce with my colleague Minister Humphreys in July 2016. The Taskforce will recommend practical actions that can be taken in the short-term to improve mobile phone and broadband access in Ireland, working with Government Departments, Local Authorities, ComReg, State Agencies, the telecoms industry and other key stakeholders. The work of the taskforce will also assist Local Authorities in preparing for the rollout of the new NBP network once contract(s) are in place. I expect that Minister Humphreys and I will bring proposals to Government by the end of 2016, on foot of the Taskforce's report.

Renewable Energy Feed in Tariff Scheme Applications

 566. Deputy Bobby Aylward Information on Bobby Aylward Zoom on Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten further to a query (details supplied) if the person concerned has already received REFIT approval from his Department; if he will address the original question put forward to his Department in June 2016 inquiring about any avenue of funding available in same to supplement this project in line with commitments made by previous Ministers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29801/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten While I cannot comment on an individual Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT) application, I can confirm that it is normal practice that a REFIT applicant would liaise directly with officials in my Department to receive updates on the status of any application, and I have asked my officials to follow up with the REFIT applicant referred to by the Deputy.

Broadband Service Provision

 567. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten if an area (details supplied) in County Kerry will be included in the upcoming fibre broadband roll-out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29857/16]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery of the NBP as a matter of priority. This is being achieved through private investment by commercial telecommunications companies and through a State intervention in areas where commercial investment is not forthcoming. The formal procurement process for the State Intervention commenced in December 2015.

  The procurement process aims to identify an entity or entities to build, rollout, operate and deliver high speed broadband of at least 30 Mbps upload and 6 Mbps download speeds to all premises within the intervention area.

  The High Speed Broadband Map, which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie shows the extent of the State Intervention area:

  - The areas marked BLUE represent those areas where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have previously indicated plans to deliver high speed broadband services.

  - The areas marked AMBER on the High Speed Broadband Map represent the target areas for the State Intervention which are the subject of the current procurement process. The road between Firies and Castlemaine is included in the AMBER area and is therefore included in the procurement process.

  The map provides information on a county by county basis with a breakdown of coverage across the townlands in every county including County. Individuals can check whether their premises is in a BLUE or an AMBER area by scrolling through the map online or entering their Eircode. The Department also has a dedicated mailbox and anyone with a query in relation to the Map should email the Department, quoting their Eircode, to broadband@dcenr.gov.ie.  

  Over 51,000 premises in County Kerry are within the AMBER area and will be covered by the State Intervention including the townland of Mounthenry, County Kerry.

Road Safety

 568. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the number of schools both primary and secondary that are located in 30 km/h zones and 50 km/h zones; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29754/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​My Department does not hold the information being sought by the Deputy, that is, the number of primary and secondary schools that are located in a 30 km/h and 50 km/h zone. Speed limit bye-laws, including those in the vicinity of schools, are made by individual Local Authorities and are now published on a dedicated website, speedlimits.ie http://www.speedlimits.ie/.

Road Improvement Schemes

 569. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if he will ensure that funding for local roads will be dramatically increased in budget 2017; if the local improvement scheme will be extended as promised in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29244/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The 2017 allocations for national, regional and local roads form part of the Budget announcement. While 2017 will see a modest increase in funding for roads, it will take some years yet under the Capital Plan to restore "steady state" funding levels for regional and local roads. The primary focus in 2017 will, therefore, have to continue to be on the maintenance and renewal of public roads. I do, however, expect that local authorities will continue to be able to use a proportion of their Discretionary Grant for the local improvement scheme.

In light of the provision in the Programme for Government indicating that, as the economy recovers, the Government will promote increased funding for Local Improvement Schemes, I will be raising the issue of increased funding in the context of the planned Mid-Term Review of the Capital Plan.

State Bodies Property

 570. Deputy James Lawless Information on James Lawless Zoom on James Lawless asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the costs spent by the National Transport Authority in maintaining the site formally known as the Johnstown Garden Centre, Johnstown, Naas, County Kildare, in each year, in tabular form (details supplied). [29251/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The construction, improvement and maintenance of individual national roads (including the provision of rest areas on motorways), is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

As I think the site to which the Deputy refers was acquired in connection with a road scheme, I have referred the Deputy's question to TII for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

Sports Capital Programme

 571. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross when the sport capital programme will be announced. [29262/16]

 599. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross when the application details for the sports capitation grants will be announced; when the decisions awarding the grants will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29583/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Patrick O'Donovan): Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan I propose to take Questions Nos. 571 and 599 together.

  The Sports Capital Programme (SCP) is the Government's primary vehicle to support the development of sports facilities and the purchase of sports equipment. The most recent rounds of the programme were in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

  The possibility of opening a new round of the SCP was considered as part of the overall 2017 estimates process. Now that this process is complete, a new round will be opened for application in January and I expect to be announcing the details shortly.

Driver Licence Applications

 572. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if he will examine the case of a person (details supplied) regarding a driver licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29271/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​​The operation of the National Driver Licensing Service is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority and I cannot intervene in individual cases.

  I have therefore referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten days.

Cycling Facilities Funding

 573. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the status of the capital project on the Royal Canal in Dublin 15; when the works will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29280/16]

 584. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the funding status of schemes (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29402/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I propose to take Questions Nos. 573 and 584 together. ​

The National Authority (NTA) is responsible for the development and implementation of public transport and sustainable transport infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA).

Under the Sustainable Transport Measures Grants (STMG) Programme, my Department provides funding to the NTA for the seven local authorities in the GDA for the implementation of sustainable transport projects such as cycling/walking infrastructure, QBCs, safety, integration and traffic management projects throughout the region. Funding of €23.2m has been allocated to this Programme in 2016. Of this total, I understand that the NTA has allocated €14.7m to Dublin City Council (DCC) to progress 37 different projects including the cycling projects mentioned by the Deputies.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the Authority for a more detailed reply. Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

National Roads Authority Projects

 574. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the status of the progress of the proposed M20 Cork to Limerick motorway; his views on the importance of this piece of infrastructure to the region and the urgent need to progress this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29321/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The planning, design and implementation of individual national road projects is a matter for the Transport Infrastructure Ireland (formerly known as the NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a matter in the first instance for TII in accordance with Section 19 of the Roads Act.

The Capital Plan published in September 2015 outlined proposed transport investment priorities to 2022. The transport element of the Capital Plan did provide for some targeted investment in a number of new projects in the Munster region including the N8/N25 Dunkettle Interchange and the N22 Ballyvourney to Macroom schemes. In addition, a number of other schemes targeted at removing bottlenecks and upgrading port access, will commence subject to necessary consents. It was not possible to include the M20 in the Capital Plan as the scale of investment to deliver it was not affordable.

I am conscious of the potential regional development benefits of an upgrade of the N20 and the significant interest in finding a means to at least restart planning work on a M20. While I will be checking with TII the status of work undertaken on the previous planning application, as things currently stand I do not have the funding available to progress this scheme.

I do expect, however, that the M20 Cork to Limerick motorway project will be looked at as part of the planned Mid-Term Review of the Capital Plan.

Road Projects Status

 575. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the status of the proposed western bypass of Ardee, County Louth, in view of the most recent safety and traffic congestion concerns; if he has recently discussed this matter with the national roads authority; if so, if he will provide information related to those discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29342/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Within its annual budget the planning, design and implementation of individual road projects, such as the Ardee Bypass is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (formerly known as the NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

The Ardee Bypass was not included in the Capital Plan published in September 2015. Decisions on the transport elements of the Capital Plan were framed by the conclusions reached in my Department’s Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport. Based on the findings in that report it is envisaged that maintenance and renewal of the road network will continue to be the main priority over the next period and the bulk of the roads capital budget, over €4 billion, is earmarked for such essential work with a further €600 million allocated for implementation of the PPP road programme which is already underway. In this context the Ardee bypass was one of the projects that it was not possible to include given the overall funding envelope available.

As the Deputy is aware, the Government proposes to undertake a Mid-Term Review of the Capital Plan, which will take stock of progress and provide the Government with an opportunity to consider the scope for increased levels of investment, including in the transport sector, taking economic growth and fiscal progress into account.

Maritime Safety

 576. Deputy Pat Casey Information on Pat Casey Zoom on Pat Casey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if he will direct a naval architect in the Marine Survey Office to confirm the failed stability tests carried out on a vessel (details supplied) in order to support a case being taken to the European Parliament Committee on Petitions regarding the vessel; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [29345/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​The Marine Survey Office (MSO) in my Department acts in the capacity of Safety Regulator for the maritime industry.

In relation to the vessel in question, inclining tests were undertaken and results obtained, and from these results, it was ascertained that for the load conditions set out in regulation, the vessel specifications did not comply with the stability criteria. The correspondence from the MSO dated 20 January 2011, which you have to hand, sets out this finding. Additionally, as you are aware, the MSO brought its concerns regarding the stability of similar vessels of this design before the relevant EU Committee and this is on record.

Cycling Policy

 577. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the urgent need to address cycle safety here; his plans to bring forward legislation relevant to cyclist safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29371/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​My current priority in road safety legislation is the Road Traffic Bill 2016 which is focussed on measures to improve safety for all road users including cyclists. The Bill provides for roadside testing for drugs and an offence of driving with the presence of specified drugs in the blood, a special speed limit of 20 km/h, and measures to give effect to an agreement between Ireland and the UK on mutual recognition of driving disqualifications.

I have no plans at present to bring forward specific road traffic legislation regarding cycling safety. In my view, safety for cyclists is best addressed by way of educational and publicity campaigns, such as those undertaken by the Road Safety Authority (RSA). The RSA promote awareness of the Rules of the Road and safe practice on our roads for all road users including the awareness of cyclists and other vulnerable road users among motorists and drivers of heavy commercial vehicles, in conjunction with promoting safe cycling practice by promoting awareness among cyclists of the need for visibility on our roads.

The current Road Safety Strategy, running from 2013 to 2020, contains measures to promote the use of personal protection equipment and high visibility clothing, which is heavily funded by the RSA, and developing a standardised road safety cycling proficiency training programme for schools.

My Department is funding the development and roll-out of "Cycle Right", a new national cycling training standard which I expect will roll out nationally in 2017. Funding of approximately €37m has been allocated by the National Transport Authority for investment in cycling/walking projects, QBCs, safety integration and traffic management projects in 2016 covering the Greater Dublin Area and Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford.

Cycling Policy

 578. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if his attention has been drawn to the national cycling policy framework document 2009 and if he is following the recommendations set in the document; if he recognises the need to engage with the stakeholders as identified in the national cycling policy framework document; if not, the reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29372/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The National Cycle Policy Framework (NCPF) was launched in 2009 and sets out a vision for cycling in Ireland to 2020.

  Wide consultation with stakeholders and members of the public was part of the process of developing the NCPF. As it currently stands the scope of the NCPF is broad and ambitious and while significant progress has been made on a numbers of actions, we will need a further concerted effort to try to deliver on the overall vision by 2020.

  My Department intends undertaking a review of this policy document in the near future and in doing so will again consult with all the relevant stakeholders.

Cycling Facilities Provision

 579. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if his attention has been drawn to the fact that inappropriately designed and constructed cycle lanes can result in fatal outcomes for users; his plans to rectify this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29373/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross While I have overall responsibility, as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, for policy and funding in relation to roads and traffic, the design and construction of cycling infrastructure in Ireland is carried out in accordance with the criteria set out in the National Cycle Manual as published by the National Transport Authority.

Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

Cycling Facilities Provision

 580. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if his attention has been drawn to the amount of funding that has been cut by the National Transport Authority for the provision of pedestrian and cycle schemes; his plans to reverse these cuts; his views that more funding is needed for the protection of pedestrians and cyclists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29374/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​The National Authority (NTA) is responsible for the development and implementation of public transport and sustainable transport infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA).

Under the Sustainable Transport Measures Grants (STMG) Programme, my Department provides funding to the NTA for the seven local authorities in the GDA for the implementation of sustainable transport projects such as cycling/walking infrastructure, Quality Bus Corridors, safety, integration and traffic management projects throughout the region. Funding of €23.2m has been allocated to this Programme in 2016. Of this total, I understand that NTA has allocated €14.7m to Dublin City Council to progress 37 different projects.

I am advised by the NTA that with the technical resource requirements available to the Council, not all the desired projects can be progressed simultaneously. The NTA and Dublin City Council have therefore decided to prioritise the traffic works associated with completion of LUAS Cross City, which will also benefit cyclists and pedestrians, plus a slightly reduced number of other sustainable transport schemes and to pause a small number of other projects all of which are at the design stage only. Works will resume at the earliest possible date.​

Bus Éireann Staff

 581. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if his attention has been drawn to a section in Bus Éireann's articles of association that does not allow for a transfer of staff to another company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29375/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​I have not had my attention drawn to, nor am I aware of, any such section in the Articles of Association of Bus Éireann.

  Matters relating to Bus Éireann's Memorandum and Articles of Association are principally a matter for the company and its board and I am therefore forwarding the Deputy's question to Bus Éireann for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

Bus Services

 582. Deputy Kathleen Funchion Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the reason the bus service (details supplied) from Callan, County Kilkenny, to Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, has discontinued; his plans to provide an alternative service. [29391/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) 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.

Electric Vehicles

 583. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his plans to allow electric vehicles to use bus lanes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29401/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Bus lanes were introduced, at some expense to the Irish people, to provide on-street priority for bus-based public transport. They are intended to make bus transport faster and more reliable, therefore attracting more people out of their cars and onto public transport. Greater bus use reduces congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions and must remain a strong focus of our drive to make transport cleaner and less carbon emitting.

In addition to buses, taxis are permitted to use bus lanes, as they are available for on-street hire by the general public. The emergency services are also entitled to use bus lanes, as are cyclists, on the basis that they are inherently vulnerable road users.

My Department has received many requests over the years to allow other classes of traffic access to bus lanes. These have included hackneys, limousines, motorcycles, multi-occupancy cars, and animal ambulances, as well as electric vehicles.

All of these requests have been rejected as allowing additional categories of traffic to use the lanes would undermine their efficiency for their original purpose, which is to facilitate bus transport. In addition, if a concession were made on one of the many classes of traffic for which access to bus lanes is regularly sought, it would be difficult to justify refusing access to the others. Furthermore, it is far from clear how enforceable such a concession may be.

Keeping bus lanes for small and large PSVs and vulnerable users such as cyclists ensures efficient use of road space, a better quality public transport service and, accordingly, plays an important role in reducing emissions. It is also safer as it reduces conflicts between different kinds of users. I am committed to exploring mechanisms to encourage increased take up of electric vehicles but, in this instance, I believe that alternatively fuelled vehicles are better encouraged using other measures.

I therefore have no plans to allow electric vehicles to use bus lanes.


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