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 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2018: Message from Select Committee
 Header Item Ceisteanna - Questions
 Header Item Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions
 Header Item Bus Services

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 976 No. 5

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Estimates for Public Services 2018: Message from Select Committee

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy The Select Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government has completed its consideration of the following Supplementary Estimates for Public Services for the year ending 31 December 2018: Vote 34 - Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Ceisteanna - Questions

Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy I wish to point out to Members the procedure for questions. There are 30 seconds, and 30 seconds only, for Deputies to put their questions and the Minister has two minutes to respond. Deputies have a supplementary question and the Minister answers it. There is a final supplementary question and a final answer from the Minister. I ask Members to adhere strictly to that so that we get through as many questions as possible.

Bus Services

 1. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross his views on the delay between the implementation of the BusConnects network redesign and the planned roll out of the new core bus corridors and lanes. [52436/18]

Deputy John Lahart: Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart I thank the Acting Chairman for the riding instruction. What are the Minister's views on the delay between BusConnects phase 2, which relates to the bus spines and new corridors that we, on this side of the House, strongly support, and the implementation of phase 1, which relates to the network changes?

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross As the Deputy is aware BusConnects is one of the flagship investments to be delivered under Project Ireland 2040 and the ten year national development plan, NDP. The programme is made up of a number of different components, namely, building a new network of improved bus and cycle lanes; redesigning and expanding the network of bus services; introducing simpler fare structures and new ticketing technology; implementing a new bus livery; providing new and improved bus stops and shelters and new park and ride sites; and, importantly, transitioning the entire urban PSO bus fleet to low emission technologies.

The objective of these proposals under BusConnects is to improve bus journey times that will benefit many millions of passenger journeys each year; provide a bus service that is easier to use and understand; enable more people to travel by bus than ever before; and also provide a network of cycling infrastructure that will enable more people to cycle across the city.

Each of the components is significant in its own right while collectively they have the potential to transform how we use the bus in Dublin and in the other cities when rolled out there. The Deputy's question seems to suggest discord where none exists. All significant investment programmes such as BusConnects are made up of different components which can be progressed at different times and at different speeds.

With BusConnects Dublin, the National Transport Authority, NTA, has been running the consultation phase on two distinct components, first, the network redesign - this is about configuration of all the bus services that will run for passengers - and, second, the proposed new bus lanes. These are the dedicated road infrastructure that will form the 16 main corridors into the city on which the bus services, and cycleways, will run.

We all know of the significant public consultation that has taken place in recent months in relation to the bus network. There was a huge response to that consultation, with more than 30,000 submissions.  The NTA is currently considering all submissions received with a view to issuing a revised network design for further public consultation in 2019.

It is envisaged that the implementation of the final network will take place in 2020. The network redesign can be implemented on the existing road network with some enhancements at key interchange locations which will be provided as we roll out the new network.

Deputy John Lahart: Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart I know the Minister supports this, as do we on this side of the House. Phase 2 puts in place the infrastructure. We believe it makes more sense to implement phase 1 first, to put in place the corridors, and then change the network. According to a briefing we received last week by the NTA and Dublin Bus, some of these corridors will not be in place until 2027, the date for the construction completion and implementation of the metro. What will happen between now and then? There will be an increases in the bus fleet and a network redesign, about which the Minister and I both had issues, despite our support for the project from the start. What will happen between 2020 and 2027 as traffic congestion increases in the city and without the corridors to carry it? What are the Minister's plans for this?

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross I will try to answer the Deputy's question. Bus corridors are not the first thing to go in in this situation. The last major overhaul of the bus network in Dublin was implemented without any infrastructure developments accompanying it. The network redesign, which is the first thing, can be done in advance of the introduction of the new bus lanes. This will obviously take time. A large number of corridors, 16, will be brought in. It will not all be put in in 2027. There is a process which will involve many different applications, representations and consultations because they are controversial. It is not the case that we will plonk them down in 2026-2027, and the gap that the Deputy is suggesting is not the case.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy Thank you, Minister.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross There will be a planning process. There will be some compulsory purchase orders, which is regrettable but that will happen. There will be a large amount of public consultation to ensure that the corridors are put in the correct places and convenient to the people involved and the residents who will be affected. It will be a long process, not a short one, but it is for the convenience of the Deputy's constituents and my own.

Deputy John Lahart: Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart That is the point - it is a long process. I would love if the Minster devoted the same energy as he does to traffic safety, which is laudable, into a dynamic intervention into this. People cannot be encouraged or expected to switch from cars to buses if the bus infrastructure is not in place.

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