Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport

Revised National Development Plan: Discussion

Photo of Duncan SmithDuncan Smith (Dublin Fingal, Labour) | Oireachtas source

That is encouraging. The preliminary business case has been presented to the Department of Transport and will go to Government. From the point of view of the NTA, the costings make sense and, hopefully, that will follow through. Timelines have suffered, obviously, and we have had some negative press in regard to MetroLink in the build-up to the NDP. From what I am hearing in this meeting and what we heard in the meeting we had with the Minister a couple of weeks ago, it is to be hoped that things are getting back on track in regard to MetroLink.

I will move on to another issue as my time short. With regard to meeting with many of the transport providers, the work they are doing in terms of carbon reduction is very positive and, in fact, it can be quite exciting given some of the technologies they are looking at. In terms of accessibility for people with disabilities, wheelchair access is referenced in the NTA’s statement. Having wheelchair accessible bus stops and platforms is very positive but it is when people with wheelchairs are getting onto a bus that they are having problems. A young activist in Swords, Conor Dillon, is doing great work with Dublin Bus in highlighting this. As technology improves with most things, it usually makes them smaller, but wheelchairs are not getting any smaller. When people in wheelchairs are getting onto buses, it is not an easy thing to manoeuvre them once they are on the bus. Even with a big wheelchair, they can get on the bus but if there are other passengers or buggies and so on in the way, it can be very difficult. Beyond that, if a second wheelchair user gets on, there are big problems, and this includes the most advanced buses with the largest capacity.

This is something that needs flagging. The whole country is getting behind and is supportive of active travel, making pathways more accessible and making bus stops more accessible. Hopefully, we will be able to encourage more wheelchair users to use public transport and to be able to rely on it, but there is that capacity and manoeuvrability issue on our buses in particular, which is a point that needs to be made. I would be interested to hear the witnesses’ thoughts on that. I know many contracts for buses are made years in advance so we know what is coming down the tracks in terms of their capacity. However, the capacity is limited for people with wheelchairs, even if the accessibility measures are in place for people to get on the bus.

On cycling routes, it has been great to see so many cycle lanes pop up in the city of Dublin and around the country in the past year and a half, and there is no doubt we have seen them. I travel from Fingal to Dublin city and back again every day. In terms of linking up cycle lanes, particularly where local authorities are side by side, what work is being done to ensure that cycle routes are matching up? What is being done to ensure the construction standards are the same, particularly on our radial routes on the main arteries in order that we have long, segregated cycle routes for people to get in from the outskirts of the city? This is not just for Dublin but for all our cities and large towns. What plans are in place to roll out those kinds of cycle lanes?


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