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 Header Item Brexit Preparations (Continued)
 Header Item Public Transport

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Imelda Munster: Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster] It is up to people to apply for them.

The Minister also indicated that one month's advance notice would be required for the delivery of a green card to an individual. He has just stated that the motor insurance industry has confirmed that it will start issuing them from March. As of today, we are six weeks away from a no-deal Brexit. If it takes one month for delivery, that will give people only two weeks in which to apply. In the course of his conversations with those in the industry, did the Minister flag the fact that a volume of people will be forced to apply for these green cards? Did he also flag the short timeframe involved and the chaos this will cause if it is not done properly?

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross Obviously, the Deputy is very well aware of the numbers of these green cards that will be needed and possibly applied for and distributed by the insurance companies. The insurance companies are taking the initiative in this and they will be printing at a rate of knots to satisfy a demand that may or may not exist. This is a preparatory move. I do not need to flag it with them; they are aware of it. The insurance companies will make their own rules about where and when they issue the green cards but I am pleased to state that they are preparing for a no-deal Brexit, as any prudent companies ought to do in this situation. I certainly did not flag it with them because they knew about it. The Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland, MIBI, has already taken the initiative on this particular issue so it does not take me to do that. Obviously, it would be preferable if this was not happening at all but if the MIBI decides it wants to do it or charge for it, that is up to it. My position is simply that I would rather that this did not have to happen but if is happening, so be it.

Deputy Imelda Munster: Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster I raise these questions because I am a Deputy who represents a Border county. If I or others want to travel to south Armagh from County Louth, a 30-minute journey, we do not want to have to produce green cards in order to do so. I also asked the Minister at the meeting last Wednesday if he had intervened specifically to deal with the issue of some form of dispensation. Some 25 million journeys are made via 300 Border crossings on an annual basis. I had said that unless the EU, the British Government and the Minister, on behalf of this Government, stepped in, a dispensation would not be possible. I ask the Minister again whether he met them to discuss this specific issue of a dispensation, what was the outcome and to whom did he speak. Did he make reference to recognising the existing relationship in respect of motor insurance cover, North and South, without requirement for green cards? Did he raise the common travel area? Did he ask if this dispensation could be accommodated under the Good Friday Agreement?

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross The Deputy is asking about the interventions. The Government has raised this matter directly with the European Commission and we have looked to it for a date from which green cards would not be required. That would satisfy the Deputy and many of her constituents who would be travelling backwards and forwards across the Border. It is a matter between the EU and the UK and it would be wholly inappropriate as well as ineffective for an individual member state to seek to make a unilateral intervention with the UK authorities. The setting of a date is possible under Article 8.2 of the motor insurance directive. The Commission has not given agreement to date and the Government continues to pursue the matter with it. The Commission advised the MIBI and the Council of Bureaux that it is keeping the matter under "close and constant review" as part of its Brexit preparedness work.

Public Transport

 53. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross if his attention has been drawn to the considerable overcrowding across the public transport system; and the steps he is taking to address same. [7061/19]

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy We are all aware that there is serious overcrowding on practically all modes of public transport. I acknowledge that Project Ireland 2040 allocates certain funding for BusConnects, metro north and other public transport projects but I ask the Minister specifically - and if he answers the question he may be able to state the time - the measures he intends to take here and now to address that chronic overcrowding.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross I thank Deputy Troy. All of us are aware that increasing numbers of people are choosing to use public transport and all of us will, I am sure, welcome that fact. The Deputy is right to say that these increases can cause pressures at certain times and in certain places on the capacity of the public transport system. I hope he will acknowledge that there are short, medium and longer-term responses required to deal with those pressures.

My priority over the next few years is to increase investment in public transport infrastructure and services across the country. That is why I have provided funding to the National Transport Authority, NTA, to introduce measures such as expanding the public service obligation, PSO, bus fleets across the country; increasing and improving PSO bus services; introducing ten-minute DART services; increasing usage of the Phoenix Park tunnel for Kildare line commuters; expanding off-peak services generally across the rail network; increasing funding of the heavy rail network to steady state levels; and introducing longer trams on the newly extended Luas Green Line.

In the medium term I am providing increased funding to the NTA to continue to: expand PSO bus fleets, which will increase again this year; deliver new and improved cycling and walking infrastructure, with a number of important projects starting construction this year; complete the city centre resignalling project, which will benefit rail services; explore, and secure, medium-term solutions to capacity constraints on the rail network; and extend all trams on the Luas green line and purchase eight additional trams, which we expect to begin to arrive by quarter 4 this year.

In the longer term, I am working with my Government colleagues in delivering upon the ambition of Project Ireland 2040 and its national strategic objectives. This involves major transformative projects such as BusConnects in all the major cities, DART expansion, MetroLink, the national train control centre and the development of strategic cycling networks. Together these will have a significant and positive impact for people in using our public transport system.

I assure the Deputy that this Government is committed to achieving a modern, efficient and effective integrated public transport system across the country and the measures I have outlined above will support the shift toward sustainable transport.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy If some of the commuters who were standing at a bus stop this morning as multiple buses passed them by or those who were taking the DART or commuter rail to work or to study and who were packed like sardines in a tin were listening to the Minister, they would not be overly relieved by his answer. There are reports this morning that €30 million in savings are to come from his Department in respect of the overspend on the national children's hospital project. Can the Minister confirm on the record of the Dáil that this will not have any impact on our public transport network or our roads budget? Can he also confirm when the tender for new train carriages will be issued and when we can expect delivery of new train carriages? In respect of the new buses the Minister said are coming on-stream, I understand 150 buses are to be delivered to Dublin Bus before July. How many of those buses have been delivered to date and how many will be additional and not simply replacement buses?

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross I thank the Deputy for his question. The issue of the cuts because of the national children's hospital overrun is something I am very happy to address. I can confirm categorically that there will not be any cuts in any projects or any roads as a result of that. It is important that the Deputy should know that. It will not have any impact on our public transport projects. The Deputy will have seen the figure of €27 million. It is the result of a decision in Northern Ireland about the A5. Said decision will mean that the project payment will not have to be made until 2020.

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