Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 20-30
 Header Item Public Transport Subsidies
 Header Item City Bikes Scheme
 Header Item Road Projects
 Header Item State Airports
 Header Item Road Projects Status
 Header Item Public Transport Subsidies
 Header Item Rural Transport Programme Funding
 Header Item Road Projects
 Header Item The Gathering Initiatives
 Header Item Tourism Promotion
 Header Item Integrated Ticketing

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 820 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 73 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 20-30

Public Transport Subsidies

 20. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the rationale for the reduction in the State subsidy to Dublin Bus in recent years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47178/13]

 53. Deputy Olivia Mitchell Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide an update on the financial position of Dublin Bus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47118/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 20 and 53 together.

In relation to the question as to the rationale behind the reduction in the level of subvention to Dublin Bus, the answer to that can be found in the state's overall financial position and the significant cuts to public expenditure that have been required as a result.

The Government attaches great importance to the continued operation of Dublin Bus, which is vital to so many of our citizens and to the successful operation of the Irish economy.

Dublin Bus has incurred losses of €72m over the last six years 2008 to 2012 even after receiving considerable subsidies, a position which is unsustainable. During that period it has also received substantial additional support from Government in a number of forms, including  €392m in PSO payments, €65m for capital purposes such as the enhancement of services and provision of new buses and €102m to cover the cost of free travel. This comes to a total exchequer funded support of €559m over that five year period.  For the years 2013 and 2014 further support of €227m is being provided across these three areas.

For the last full year we have of 2012, the total State support for Dublin Bus across the three headings for PSO, capital support and support to cover the cost of free travel was €118m, a higher figure than at any time since 2008.

Since 2008, Dublin Bus's financial performance has been severely affected by the economic recession which has resulted in a significant reduction in passenger numbers, with a total drop in journeys between the peak in 2007 and 2012 of 22% and by its failure to achieve the required level of cost savings, albeit that significant savings have been achieved. The company developed a 5 year recovery plan (2012-2016) to bring the business back to profitability. The NTA has recently granted further fare increases to the company that will be effective in 2014. The fare increase determination by the NTA assumes the achievement of the cost savings outlined in the Dublin Bus recovery plan.

The total PSO subvention allocated to Dublin Bus by the National Transport Authority (NTA) in 2013 is €65m.  In addition, the Exchequer, through the NTA, also provides funding for a rolling renewal programme for the PSO bus fleet.  The 2013 allocation for this programme in Dublin Bus is €28m, resulting in the purchase of 80 new buses. A further €21m will be provided to cover the cost of free travel. Bus is still the key public transport mode and it is important we have a reliable and efficient fleet with a reasonable average age.

The total PSO subvention payable to the NTA for 2014 will be €209.7m. (a reduction of €16.8m. from 2013).  The allocation of the 2014 subvention, including the amount payable to the three CIÉ subsidiaries, will be decided by the NTA in accordance with their PSO contracts with the companies. The CIE Group Business Plan has already factored in the expected cut in PSO subvention in 2014 and CIE has negotiated improved bank facilities in relation to refinancing of the Group.

It should be noted that the bus services in Dublin that are not provided by Dublin Bus receive no state support and manage to cover their own costs. Also, Luas operates without operating subsidies from the tax-payer.

City Bikes Scheme

 21. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide an update on the extension of the city bikes schemes to other cities outside Dublin. [46969/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for Government contains a commitment that to "look to extend the Dublin Bikes Scheme across the wider Dublin area and to other cities and integrate the scheme much more effectively with public transport links." In that regard, I am pleased to report that, led by my colleague Minister Kelly, work is well advanced within the National Transport Authority on finalising proposals for the provision  of public bikes schemes in Limerick, Cork and Galway.  Significant progress has been made in relation to the award of the contract for the supply, installation, operation and maintenance of the bike schemes.  It is hoped that this contract can be awarded early in 2014 with construction to commence shortly thereafter.

Funding  to meet the capital investment costs of public bikes in other cities has been identified within the 5-year capital allocation for Smarter Travel and Carbon Reduction Measures announced in 2012.  The delivery of the Regional Cities Bike Scheme was also dependant on  a separate process to explore the potential for a sponsorship contract to defray some of the costs associated with the introduction of the Scheme.  This process has been completed with the recent announcement that Coca Cola emerged as the successful sponsor for the Scheme.

The vision behind the Scheme is to develop an environmentally friendly means of public transport that is healthy, relatively inexpensive and will ensure an improved quality of life in each of the city’s natural and built environment.  Public bike schemes have the potential to enhance the city centres and provide a significant boost to the development of a cycling culture. It also adds to the tourism offering in those cities as well.

It has been 4 years since Dublin bikes launched in Dublin city.  It has been a resounding success with over 5 million rentals since its launch and 35,000 long term subscribers.  Dublin City Council has reported a 40% increase in numbers cycling in the city over the last four years.  I look forward to hearing of similar results when the  bike schemes are up and running in Limerick, Cork and Galway.

Road Projects

 22. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton Information on Paul Connaughton Zoom on Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the position regarding the M17-M18 Gort-Tuam motorway; when he expects it to commence; the completion date of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [46975/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NRA for direct reply. However for the Deputy's information, it is hoped to achieve financial close in quarter one of 2014. However the PPP process is long and arduous and requires board approval and credit committee approval by several parties and the conclusion of legal agreements.

State Airports

 23. Deputy Joe Carey Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will set out the supports he proposes to give in terms of marketing new routes given the positive reaction from Ryanair to the abolition of the travel tax in respect of Shannon Airport; his views on whether a strong marketing effort would maximise the potential of these routes in terms of inbound traffic to the west; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [46979/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The reduction of the air travel tax to zero from next April is a clear indication of the Government's major support for Irish tourism and air travel generally. In terms of the marketing of any new routes, this is primarily a matter for the airlines themselves.  Tourism Ireland, as the agency responsible for the overseas promotion of Ireland as a tourist destination, also works with airlines and others to promote inbound tourism on routes from our key overseas markets. Accordingly, I have also referred the Deputy's Question to Tourism Ireland for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Road Projects Status

 24. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the position regarding the progress of the N26-N5-N58 road project; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [46945/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

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

Public Transport Subsidies

 25. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if there has been a cost benefit analysis conducted into the impact of planned further reductions in Government subvention to CIE and the consequential fare hikes being imposed on passengers. [46851/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly I refer the Deputy to the reply to Priority Question Nos. 1 and 2 which were answered earlier.

The total PSO subvention payable to the NTA for 2014 will be €209.7m, a reduction of €16.8m. from 2013.  The allocation of the 2014 subvention, including the amount payable to the three CIÉ subsidiaries, will be decided by the NTA in accordance with their PSO contracts with the companies. The CIE Group Business Plan has already factored in the expected cut in PSO subvention in 2014 and CIE has negotiated improved bank facilities in relation to refinancing of the Group.

Rural Transport Programme Funding

 26. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if the reduced funding allocated to the rural transport programme for 2014 will result in reduced services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47161/13]

 50. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the funding intentions for the rural transport programme into the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47179/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 26 and 50 together.

The budget allocation for the Rural Transport Programme (RTP) in 2014 is €9.446 million which includes €950k in Community Service Programme funding that is being transferred from the Department of Social Protection Vote. The 2013 RTP allocation is €9.633 million including a one-off provision of €500k for restructuring.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has responsibility for implementing the restructuring programme.

The purpose of the restructuring of the RTP is to protect the provision of rural transport services into the future. The new model for the delivery of rural transport services involving the establishment of 18 Transport Coordination Units in place of the existing 35 RTP Groups, will allow for the maximising of spend on services and the reduction of administration costs, thereby ensuring that the resources available are dedicated to the greatest extent possible to the provision of transport services to those in rural communities who need them.

I am advised by the NTA that during the restructuring of the RTP, its priority is to ensure the uninterrupted continuation of existing RTP services. In this regard the NTA's focus is to move the existing RTP services into contracted services with the NTA, whether directly with the operators, or with the fleet owning groups. At the same time the NTA will examine existing contracted services to ensure that they are meeting current demands. Based on the current funding available, the NTA has no plans to modify or reduce specific services.

Road Projects

 27. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he has had any recent discussion with his Northern Ireland Executive Minister counterpart regarding the national primary route N16 which forms part of the east-west corridor linking Northern Ireland with the Republic and more specifically linking Sligo and Leitrim and much of Connacht with Belfast, Larne and Dundalk on the east coast; if he acknowledges that this route was designated by the EU as one of the east-west links forming part of the trans-European road network, recognising its strategic importance in linking the peripheral north west with Belfast and the north-eastern ports and that it is the main access route for commercial traffic, tourists and social travel from the north-east to the west and vice versa; and if he will give assurances that some priority for funding under a cross-Border initiative will be forthcoming.  [47063/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department maintains regular contact with its counterparts in Northern Ireland and will continue to liaise with a view to assessing the scope for drawdown of funding for road projects under the TEN-T Regulation.

I would have to note, however, that any funding contribution from TEN-T would be quite limited with the bulk of the funding needing to come from the Exchequer. This does constrain the scope for considering cross border road development projects in the current financial climate.

The Gathering Initiatives

 28. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the work his Department and the agencies under his aegis are carrying out in relation to building on the legacy of The Gathering. [46968/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Gathering Ireland 2013 aimed primarily to generate additional tourist numbers and revenue in 2013.  However, it also aimed to have a longer-term impact.  We set a target of 325,000 visitors and we are well on the way to meeting that. But The Gathering was never just about visitor numbers and revenues.  It is also about community pride and strengthening links with the diaspora.

The Gathering helped to strengthen existing links with Irish communities abroad and create new connections.  Tourism Ireland will continue to work with the diaspora networks and will include this global family as part of its future promotional work overseas.  The networks and databases created through The Gathering will also remain as a valuable asset to Irish tourism.

A number of Gathering related events and festivals have already been identified as having potential to run again. Similarly, the success of the Emerald Isle Classic college football game, which was a key part of the marketing campaign for the Gathering, is being built on with next year's game between Penn State – with the largest alumni association in the US - and the University of Central Florida in Croke Park.

The Gathering also made a vital contribution to the local community. The Gathering network provided extensive training to more than 2,500 people and these community engagement skills will endure and be available to support other local events.

The work of the agencies in this regard are operational matters for Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland and I am referring the Deputy's question to the agencies for their direct reply.   Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Tourism Promotion

 29. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he has considered providing State support for an enhanced Hallowe'en festival here in view of the Celtic origins of Samhain and the extent to which Hallowe'en is celebrated around the world, particularly in Britain and the US; if his attention has been drawn to the potential boost to tourism such a festival may represent in view of the large sums spent on Hallowe'en festivities in Ireland's major tourism markets; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [47116/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring The provision of funding for festivals and events which have associated tourism benefits is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland and it is open to the promoters of festivals to make an application to the agency for funding. Details of the application process are advertised in the national press and online on the Fáilte Ireland website.  The application process for 2014 has not yet been advertised. 

I am not aware of a specific proposal for a new Halloween festival, but I would encourage the promoters of any such festival - or indeed any new or innovative tourism proposals - to engage with Fáilte Ireland with a view to maximising the tourism potential of any such proposal.

I have referred the Deputy's question to Fáilte Ireland for further information and reply.  Please contact my private office if you do not hear back from the agency within ten working days.

Integrated Ticketing

 30. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the progress to date of implementing integrated ticketing, including Leap card, at locations outside of Dublin such as Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46948/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly Responsibility to develop, procure, implement, operate and maintain the integrated ticketing Leap Card system in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) became a function of the National Transport Authority (NTA) with effect from 30th September 2010. In addition, section 63 of the Dublin Transport Authority Act, 2008 extends the Authority’s remit in relation to integrated ticketing to the rest of the State.

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


Last Updated: 08/05/2020 17:05:44 First Page Previous Page Page of 73 Next Page Last Page