Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 23 November 2016
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport
A Vision for Public Transport: Discussion
I remind members, delegates and those in the Visitors Gallery to turn off their mobile phones, as distinct from leaving them in silent mode, as they interfere with the broadcasting equipment.
We return to considering the issue of a vision for public transport. This is the third and final set of hearings on the issue held in the past two months. It is proposed that following our hearings today, we produce a report on the topic, making a number of recommendations which will be presented to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in due course.
I welcome from the National Transport Authority Ms Anne Graham, chief executive officer, and Mr. Hugh Creegan, deputy chief executive; from Dublin City Council Mr. Richard Brady, assistant chief executive, and Mr. Brendan O'Brien, acting executive manager of traffic; from the Automobile Association of Ireland Mr. Conor Faughnan, director of consumer affairs, and Mr. Barry Aldworth, public relations officer; from Transdev Mr. Gerry Madden, managing director; and from the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland Mr. Kevin Traynor, national director, and Mr. John Halpenny, vice chairperson. I thank all of them for appearing before the committee. The opening statements and briefing documents submitted have been circulated to members.
By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence they are to give to the committee. If, however, they are directed by it to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence.
They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
The presentations should be no more than five minutes in duration. If they are shorter, that will be no problem. I call on Ms Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA, to make her opening statement.
Ms Anne Graham:
I thank the committee for the invitation to attend. I am joined by my colleague, Mr. Hugh Creegan, deputy CEO with particular responsibility for transport planning, investment and taxi regulation. I understand that the committee wishes to focus on the vision for public transport for the greater Dublin area.
The Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016-2035, approved by the Minister this year, sets out how the vision for greater use of sustainable transport could be delivered by 2035, allowing for a 29% increase in transport demand over that period. The strategy outlines the heavy and light rail networks, the core bus network, a supporting cycling network and other demand management measures that are necessary to ensure that 55% of the trips to work in 2035 are made by sustainable modes, an increase from 38% since 2011.
The cost of all the measures in the strategy is an estimated €10 billion, which averages at €500 million per year over the strategy's 20-year horizon. Delivering these projects will accrue an overall benefit-to-cost ratio of 1.5:1. However, the current capital funding for improvements to public transport are not at the levels required to meet the strategy goals. Approximately €350 million will be provided each year for the next three years for public transport across the State, which includes the funding required for steady-state funding of the rail network. The authority will shortly publish its statutory draft implementation plan, which will set out what can be delivered within the current financial envelope in the next six years.
Following a period of reduced transport usage and suppressed transport growth in private car use and public transport patronage, 2014 saw the start of a reversal of these trends. Public transport usage has increased for all modes since then – bus, Luas and commuter rail. Paralleling the changes in public transport, car travel has increased across the Dublin region since 2014. Demand for travel is on the increase and patronage on public transport is growing. To date in 2016, passenger numbers have continued to grow, with an estimated outturn growth of approximately 5% expected by the end of the year. The trend of increased overall demand is expected to accelerate, with further economic recovery and population growth envisaged over the next five years. It is unlikely that all such demands can be met within existing service provision and capacity, particularly within the city and urban networks where population growth will be the highest and existing peak capacity is already well used.
What is being delivered now? Over the next year, the following transport improvements will be delivered: Luas cross-city will commence services at the end of 2017; train services from the Kildare line linking with the city centre through the Phoenix Park tunnel commenced this week; a ten-minute DART service will be provided from early 2017 and additional bus fleet will be acquired to add capacity to busy routes experiencing high passenger numbers in peak hours.
The main projects to be delivered by the Government's capital plan up to 2022 include additional bus fleet and improvements in bus corridors; design and planning for construction of the metro north; extension of the DART to Balbriggan and designs for electrification of commuter sections of Kildare and Maynooth lines; redesign of the DART underground; and the construction of a new national train control centre. However, the city region cannot wait for these projects to be delivered. Rail projects have a long lead-in time. Work must commence immediately on improvements to the bus infrastructure across the region in order to meet the growing demand and offer an attractive alternative to car drivers.
A number of aspects must be delivered now including an accelerated development of bus lane provision on the priority bus corridors forming the core bus network, further enhancement in terms of bus fleet numbers and bus services, the introduction of bus rapid transit services on some high-passenger volume bus routes, the provision of higher frequency and amended rail services on certain commuter routes into Dublin, which requires investment in new rail carriages, measures such as park and ride services and fares initiatives and an accelerated delivery of key elements of the cycling network.
Sixteen bus corridors form the core bus network within the Dublin region. They are set out in figure 1 of the submission. These priority bus corridors represent the key arteries of the bus system, with multiple high-frequency bus services using them. As such, they form the cornerstone of the overall bus network for the region. Outside of the city centre, the overall length of these corridors amounts to 174 km, or 347 km when each direction is considered separately. Of these 347 km, less than one third – 102 km - have dedicated bus lanes. The remainder require buses to co-run with general traffic. In order to improve the efficiency, journey time performance and overall competitiveness of the bus services on these routes, it is important to address the bus lane deficits sequentially and provide continuous bus lanes to the extent practicable. While five of the arteries are being designed to accommodate bus rapid transit, the remaining 11 corridors will be addressed as conventional bus routes. Work has commenced on the design of the necessary improvements on all corridors and outline designs will be completed in early 2017. Detailed design and planning work must be carried out and provided for in capital funding so that construction of the improved infrastructure can commence in 2018 or 2019.
The licensed commercial bus industry supports 9% of all public transport journeys across the State and, therefore, plays an important role in meeting travel demands across the Dublin city region. These services would also benefit from the improved bus corridor infrastructure. The authority is funding the provision of a coach park facility in Dublin 1 to alleviate the on-street parking of coaches in the city centre. Work is scheduled to commence on that project in early 2017.
Demand for travel is growing rapidly and the public transport system must respond. While the authority is planning for the infrastructure to meet this demand, funding is not fully in place for its construction. An increasingly congested city has the potential to undermine the economic recovery that is taking place and stifle the provision of the housing and commercial developments that are required to sustain that growth.
That concludes my introductory presentation. I trust that I can answer any question that arises.
Mr. Richard Brady:
I thank the Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport for its invitation to attend and contribute to this discussion. I am accompanied today by my colleague, Mr. Brendan O'Brien, executive manager with special responsibility for traffic management.
Dublin city is beginning to show signs of renewed growth in the aftermath of the economic crash. This growth is manifest in employment, resident population, students, shoppers, visitors and tourists. A key component in ensuring the sustainability of this growth and that the city remains a desirable destination is how people travel to, move around and relate to the built and natural environment of the city.
On average, 500,000 people travel within Dublin city centre every day. This comprises approximately 235,000 work-related trips, 45,000 education-related trips and 120,000 visitors, tourists or shoppers. In addition, some 120,000 people live between the canals. If growth continues as predicted, by 2023 it is likely that there will be an additional 40,000 trips coming into the city centre each day as well as 15,000 new residents living between the canals. This does not take account of expected additional retail and tourist footfall.
Since the publication of the Dublin transport initiative strategy report in the mid-1990s, the overriding principle guiding transportation policy in the Dublin region has moved away from the traditional approach, which was to increase road capacity in order to cater for increased levels of private car traffic. Instead, the approach has been to prioritise public transport, walking and cycling because it is impossible to cater for increases in car traffic within the existing street network. The ability of the existing city streets and the capacity of the bridges over the canals to cater for vehicular traffic are finite.
If serious congestion is to be avoided, city amenity preserved and growth supported, then the need for a more balanced transport system is self evident. Public strategy and policy have recognised this balance by promoting the increase of travel by public transport, walking and cycling, while reducing car based travel, particularly in regard to work commuting. It is, therefore, vitally important that as the economy improves and the numbers of people accessing the city grows, this increase is catered for by public transport, walking and cycling rather than by private car. The investment in these areas needs to be scaled up quickly to allow schemes to be brought from design to construction in a much faster timeframe to cater for the current and anticipated growth.
The Dublin City Centre Transport Study 2016 was prepared as an input into the Dublin City Council Development Plan 2016-2022 to integrate the transport policies and proposals of Dublin City Council and the National Transport Authority, NTA, and inform an agreed framework for strategic investment. Between 2010 and 2015, €97 million was provided by the NTA to the city council towards the provision of transport infrastructure in the city. Many projects were delivered under this funding programme, including bus infrastructure, road resurfacing, cycling and walking schemes along with real time passenger information and traffic management systems.
Working within the statutory planning framework of the city council's development plan and the NTA Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016-2035, the study examined the issues relating to the management and movement of people and goods to, from and within Dublin city centre and proposed various changes to the transport network. It is envisaged that over the lifetime of the new city development plan, €150 million will be made available to Dublin City Council to enable the delivery of the proposals set out in the study. This is in addition to the €368 million already committed to the Luas Cross City and other projects such as rail improvements, including the Phoenix Park tunnel link which opened recently, and bus fleet investment.
Road and street space within the city is at a premium and it is of crucial importance that the available road space be used efficiently in order to maximise the number of people who can be transported and, importantly, to protect the investment made in public transport provision and ensure that the full benefits of investment are realised. By utilising the street space efficiently it will also be possible to improve the public realm, giving over space to residents and visitors to enjoy and move around the city.
The opening of Luas Cross City will not only provide quick and easy interchange across the red and green lines but also a high quality link through the heart of the city centre and on towards Grangegorman, Phibsboro and Broombridge. The strong public transport corridor created under this project will require changes in traffic management in the city in order to maximise the benefit of this investment.
There is no doubt that the creation of a quality public realm integrated with a multi-model movement system will not only make the city more attractive to live and work in, but will also increase tourism, for example, the growth of cruise shipping, together with recreation and sporting events.
The city council is not anti-car. It recognises that continued access by car to the city is essential for sustaining retail and commercial activity within the city. As already stated, it is important that growth in commuting is accommodated through increased investment in public transport, walking and cycling. However, an appropriate level of car access needs to be facilitated together with related parking provision. This should primarily cater for non-commuting activity, particularly for shopping-related trips outside peak commuting hours and to assist in this an expansion of the existing car park guidance system is planned for 2017. That concludes the opening statement for the city council.
Mr. Conor Faughnan:
I thank the Chairman and other members for the opportunity to address the joint committee. The AA is Ireland’s motoring organisation. It has acted as a lobbyist for motoring interests and in a leadership role supporting road safety and progressive transport policies for over 100 years.
The AA provides roadside breakdown cover for about 300,000 Irish motorists and attends well in excess of 100,000 roadside breakdowns every year. It is also a significant provider of insurance being the largest intermediary in Ireland providing motor, home and travel insurance. The AA employs about 450 people in Ireland, of whom about 350 work in Dublin city centre, in two buildings in South William Street. We are also well known for providing traffic and travel information via AA Roadwatch.
The AA is well placed to see how Dublin has been affected by its traffic and transport challenges over the years. While we are a lobbying organisation, the AA does not just represent cars but also the people in them. AA members are not just motorists, they are also citizens. They use public transport, they commute and they work. Some 10% of AA members identify themselves as regular cyclists, including myself. We do not like the false position of thinking of car users versus bus users versus cyclists, as if they were sworn enemies. Everyone has an interest in getting transport right.
Dublin is my city and I am proud of it. It is a fantastic place in which to live, work and raise a family. Our quality of life is excellent. However, we have made a number of strategic mistakes on transport and I fear that we are in danger of repeating them.
Our city with a population of approximately 1.5 million suffers more from congestion than it should do for a city of its size. Compared to places like Munich, Amsterdam or Copenhagen, it has a transport system that is relatively inefficient, unpredictable and frustrating. The lazy diagnosis for this is that we have too many cars or that we have a population that is unwilling to use trains or buses. However, that simply is not true. That can be demonstrated by the fact that every public transport asset we have is full at peak times. It is not as if individuals are refusing to get on the DART or Luas, quite the reverse. We have some good quality public transport that passes through some of the most affluent suburban areas in the entire country, yet in those areas individuals readily take to public transport when it is good.
When I say that the current situation is underfunded and poorly planned, I do not mean that to sound disrespectful to Dublin Bus or to the other existing public transport operators, quite the reverse, as we would be lost without them. However, in peak periods we can just about cater, if one looks at mode-share, for people coming into the city centre. All our public transport assets in combination fall just a bit short of catering for half the commuters. Therefore, the rest have to travel in some other way, which is a recipe for traffic jams.
On any given working morning, just under 200,000 travel into Dublin city centre during rush hour. Of that number, just under 50% take public transport. Some 32% travel by car, which is actually down quite a bit in the last ten years. One bright sign is that cycling is on the way up. It has more than doubled in the last decade but still only accounts for 5% of commuters into the city centre. More and more people are taking to bikes, however, which is obviously good.
In the greater Dublin area, the numbers are even worse in terms of car dependency. Public transport is designed radially so it is even harder to use in the suburbs. The M50 finds itself carrying massive volumes that in most other European cities would be travelling by train or bus. Daily traffic on the M50 is now averaging at about 140,000 vehicles and the motorway is shockingly vulnerable to congestion. A single incident on the M50 can cause major problems through whole sectors of the city on a given morning, and that has happened more than once.
Unfortunately, Dublin has made things worse through poor choices. The most obvious of these is the fact that we have allowed the city to spread out horizontally rather than making best use of space. Back in the boom, a developer with money to spend got a better return building on a greenfield site in Carlow than by filling in a messy site somewhere close to town.
Hence, that is what we got. These new estates further and further out in the new commuter belt are inherently difficult to serve with public transport. Hence, people use cars. This is not the only mistake we made during the Celtic tiger era. I recall that the AA took much criticism at the time for being trenchant supporters of the Port Tunnel and Luas. The estimated cost at the time for the first part of the first two Luas lines and the Port Tunnel was €750 million per project. In the context of the bills we later had to pay, this seems very cheap. It is a pity we did not build a dozen Luas lines in Dublin, six in Cork, three in Galway and plenty more besides when we had the chance. The Port Tunnel has also been an immensely valuable asset to the city in improving road safety, reducing congestion and improving quality of life. We have also been painfully slow to build infrastructure because of delays in the planning process. The M50 took about 30 years to build, a rate of roughly 1 km per year, which is pretty ridiculous when one reflects on it. The first Luas lines opened 11 years after the intention to build the system was announced, which is absurd. We have not heard enough about how and when Government will address the slowness in the planning process, which is an inherent part of the problem.
Having said all that, I try to remain upbeat and I believe that Dublin remains a fantastic place and that there are plenty of positives. The infrastructure improvements we have managed to put in place have been an immense boon to the city. The increase in cycling has certainly helped. In Dublin city centre, traffic congestion, while not great, is better than it was perhaps ten years ago. The congestion tends to be a little further out. As the committee will know, it is proposed to turn College Green into a traffic-free urban space. This is potentially a very good idea once it is nicely designed, and I am inclined to favour it. I would warn, however, that there is too much of a tendency to assume that if one blocks or frustrates car use, this is an objective in itself. As a mindset, this is wrong. I would rather we focused on the positive measures that genuinely offer choice. For example, we suggested about ten years ago that the city should try to encourage multiple-occupancy cars. We put forward a proposal whereby a scheme would be trialled, subject to tight controls as one cannot interfere with the bus service, to allow people to apply for permits to the effect that if one's car had three or more occupants, one would be allowed to use certain bus corridors. One would have to introduce this with great care but, potentially, for every car that signs up to the scheme, two cars could be removed from the road, so we believe this should be tried.
The Dublin Bikes scheme has been highly successful. We supported it from the very start and we support its extension now.
However, after all, Dublin is still a city with no metro and with a chronic public transport deficit. Therefore, realistically, the motor car, which is a much cleaner and greener entity in the 21st century than it was before, will continue to be a very important part of our transport mix. The role of the car should be prominent but not dominant in a vibrant, busy, active and pleasant urban environment.
Mr. Gerry Madden:
I thank the Chairman and members of the committee for their invitation to attend to discuss a vision for transport for the greater Dublin area as it relates to Luas and Transdev.
Firstly, I wish to give the committee an overview of Luas and Transdev's involvement in Luas since its launch in 2004. Luas is a light rail tram system operating in Dublin with two main lines serving the south and west of Dublin city, namely, the red line and the green line. It is a key part of the city’s transport infrastructure that is easily accessible to all passengers. The red line is 20 km in length and has 32 stops. It runs from Tallaght-Saggart to The Point-Connolly. The green line is 16.5 km in length and has 22 stops. It runs from Brides Glen to St. Stephen's Green through Sandyford. Transdev operates Luas under contract to the National Transport Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland. The current contract will expire in the fourth quarter of 2019. Transdev revenue is through the Luas operating contract only and is, for the most part, fixed. It is a performance-based contract according to which the failure to meet or exceed minimum levels of service results in financial penalties. Transport Infrastructure Ireland retains the Luas fare box revenue. It is a privilege for Transdev, along with Luas maintenance contractors, to operate a safe, reliable form of public transport carrying almost 90,000 passengers on average per day. Transdev has 290 staff including tram drivers, revenue protection staff, traffic supervisors and administration staff who are extremely dedicated, hardworking and passionate about delivering a safe and reliable customer service. Transdev has been operating Luas since commencement of services in June 2004 and successfully renewed the operating contract in 2014. In its first full year of operation, 2005, Luas carried approximately 22 million passengers. In 2015, Luas carried 34.6 million passengers, the increase emphasising the remarkable success the light rail system has had in the greater Dublin area. Since 2004, Luas has opened three extensions, and Transdev is in mobilisation for Luas Cross City, which is scheduled to open in late 2017. Luas Cross City will integrate north-west Dublin city into the Luas network, connecting areas such as Cabra and Phibsborough to the south and west of Dublin city. Luas Cross City is projected to add an additional 10 million passenger journeys per year on the newly extended network. In addition to the Luas Cross City works, new trams are scheduled for delivery commencing in 2017, along with an extension of the existing green line trams.
Transdev is a worldwide expert in the operation of transport systems including light rail, buses, shuttles and taxis. It is our view that any vision for transport for the greater Dublin area would include a number of key objectives, which I will now outline. The streets of Dublin should be decongested of road vehicular traffic. Getting people out of their cars and using alternative transport is one of the key challenges. Achieving this will bring significant benefits across all stakeholders in the Dublin area. There should be a simple but robust multimodal public transport model including the necessary infrastructure. Encouraging people to use public transport is only the beginning of the process. Once a new passenger uses public transport, delivering a solution that is safe, easy to access, repeatable and delivers a high quality customer experience is key to convincing the passenger that public transport is a better option than the car. There should be effective management of sustainable solutions to deliver the above. The adoption of the New York Agreement on sustainable development goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change, both in 2015, provide ambitious, legally binding frameworks for global action on sustainability and climate change. In addition, Ireland has taken a national policy position that commits us to reducing 1990 levels of carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors. The vision for transport in Dublin can positively affect Ireland's goals in achieving these targets. Transdev strongly believes that in order for Dublin to be seen as a world-class transport provider, this requires all stakeholders to work collaboratively and to share best practice and key learnings. We are delighted to be members of the transport integration group set up and run by the National Transport Authority and we already see the benefits of having key transport providers sitting at the same table exploring ideas, sharing potential solutions to common challenges and challenging each other's thinking in a mature and collaborative manner. We are keen to extend into the new areas we are entering with Luas Cross City, building on established partnerships through working in the communities and in particular supporting local initiatives, schools, charities, etc. We continue to work with other key stakeholders to help us manage major events in Dublin - for example, the Garda, the Dublin Fire Brigade and local communities.
Moving on to 2017, despite the negative publicity we received in the first half of 2016, we have great people working for us. Everyone here is well aware of the very difficult year 2016 has been for all the team at Transdev. We were fortunate to have had the leadership of the State industrial relations services to help us reach an agreement signed up to by management and the trade union. This agreement provides us with a great platform to move forward together. We acknowledge that some relationships got strained in the heat of the dispute. However, mending these has been, and will continue to be, a key priority for me and my leadership team working in partnership with the trade union and all our people. Luas Cross City going live in 2017 is the perfect opportunity for all involved in Luas to show we are a world leader in public transport services, and with great people on board we will be very proud to launch passenger services in late 2017, bringing an additional 10 million journeys to public transport.
I thank the committee and I am happy to take questions as they arise.
Mr. Kevin Traynor:
I thank the Chairman and the committee for the invitation to attend and give a submission on behalf of the Coach Tourism and Transport Council. The Coach Tourism and Transport Council is the sole representative body for the private us and coach sector in Ireland. CTTC members are experts in all types of transport, including private hire, school transport, coach tourism and scheduled services under licence from the National Transport Authority.
Our members have a combined fleet of 1,200 vehicles and employ approximately 2,500 people.
The CTTC believes that cost-effective and efficient transport is a key component in promoting the economic well-being of the greater Dublin area, which is of vital importance to the wider national economy. The distribution of population is a critical factor in determining travel behaviour, particularly in respect of key services such as work, education, retail and leisure outlets. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in population in the commuter belt outside Dublin city, particularly in Fingal, Kildare and Meath, with a corresponding increase in private car traffic volumes resulting in severe traffic congestion on the incoming arterial routes. In order to remedy the current and future private car congestion and the inherent problems this brings in terms of increased journey times and its negative environmental impact, it is fundamentally important that a comprehensive, cohesive and cost-efficient transport plan is put in place.
Private operators, while currently providing quality services in the greater Dublin area under licence from the National Transport Authority, NTA, are uniquely placed to improve transport services in a cost-efficient manner. However, there are significant barriers which are restricting the continued positive growth in this area. I will set out these barriers. At present, Dublin is one of the few capital cities that has no designated transport hub that can be used as a nucleus for private and public scheduled route services. This leads to disorientation and confusion among the increasing number of travellers in our city when attempting to access services from the capital.
Section 62 of the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 was included to facilitate access by non-public funded transport operators to bus stations and railway stations. However, this has failed to materialise. The protection of existing PSO services is stifling any innovation which might be forthcoming from the private sector in the provision of express-type services from various parts of the city along busy commuter corridors. The current economic upturn has seen a significant increase in coach tourism volumes in the greater Dublin area. It is estimated that this sector provides in the region of €450 million to the Exchequer each year. A significant proportion of this income is generated within the Dublin city area. During 2016, there will be in excess of 180,000 cruise passenger visitors to Dublin, however, there is no permanent set-down and pick-up area for these visitors within central Dublin. The increase in construction and demand for on-street parking are leading to a gradual erosion of coach parking in central locations to be substituted in areas where there is a significant risk of antisocial behaviour. While there are plans at an advanced stage for the construction of a designated coach park in South Wapping Street, the facility can only accommodate 50 coaches and its planning is of a temporary nature. The site is also the location of the proposed Dart Underground and there are no alternative locations should this proposal come to fruition.
The provision of additional affordable park-and-ride facilities in the commuter belt is one of the measures that would significantly contribute to the continued growth of the transport system and the erosion of congestion. Such facilities would act as an incentive to private motorists to use public or private transport and avoid long traffic delays and expensive parking costs.
In the past, there has been clear evidence that there has been a communication failure between statutory bodies. Therefore, there is an urgent requirement to ensure that a joined-up thinking process is put in place between planners, transport providers and statutory agencies to facilitate transport infrastructure in any new developments, particularly in the hotel sector, to accommodate the increased tourism volumes projected in the future.
The CTTC welcomes the opportunity to make this submission and looks forward to liaising with and contributing to the design and implementation with the statutory bodies and other stakeholders in designing a vision for transport for the greater Dublin area which will encompass all the requirements needed to ensure safe, efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly transport into the future.
I thank Mr. Traynor. For the record, I would like to point out that the Irish Taxi Federation was invited to appear before the committee but, unfortunately, it was unable to attend. I ask members to keep contributions as brief as possible so that we can revert to the witnesses. I understand that Deputy Munster has other business that clashes with this meeting and needs to leave very shortly.
Mr. Traynor said that significant barriers are preventing growth and that one of them is shared usage of existing facilities. He also mentioned the protection of the PSO. Could he elaborate on that? How is that blocking innovation?
Mr. Traynor also mentioned express-type services. To which public services was he referring? Was it the existing Expressway service?
What targets does TransDev have to meet in order to reach its targets? What are the markers and how are they calculated? Has TransDev failed to reach any of them? What profit has Luas generated for TransDev so far? Where do those profits go? Do they go back into building on the infrastructure and expanding the service or do they go elsewhere? Given the congestion on the Luas at peak times, has TransDev plans to extend either the tram carriages or the trams themselves?
The NTA rail review appeared in August. Was the NTA surprised that there was no additional allocation in budget 2017, particularly in light of what it highlighted in the report? The representatives from the NTA said it is underfunded. By how much is it underfunded in terms of capital funding? Everything mentioned by the witnesses from the NTA comes back to lack of funding so how do they feel about the lack of additional funding and the continuing lack of investment? There is no evidence that any generous amount of funding will be forthcoming. In respect of recent media coverage of rural rail links, is cutting off rural links to predominantly isolated or underdeveloped rural parts of the country is a good policy for the NTA? Could the NTA give us an update on that? Representatives from the NTA spoke about 45,000 education-related passengers travelling into Dublin city on a daily basis. I know a certain percentage of that number would be college students but a large percentage would be primary and secondary school students.
Have the witnesses at any stage looked at initiating a proper school bus transport service with Dublin City Council, which would cut down vastly on those numbers? Are there plans for that? Clearly nothing major has been done on it. What are the reasons for that? A positive move like that would have huge implications by reducing numbers.
Mr. Brady of Dublin City Council talked about congestion and public transport. Has Dublin City Council any distinct plans for cycle lanes in Dublin? If yes, what stage are they at in planning? Do the witnesses from Dublin City Council think that €150 million investment is sufficient to carry out the plans it has for Dublin? It is on top of other investment money it is getting. Do the witnesses think that amount of €150 million is sufficient?
I thank Mr. Faughnan of the AA for his comprehensive and honest statement. He mentioned the notion of car pooling and that he had raised it almost a decade ago. Has he liaised with either Dublin City Council or the NTA on that? Have they been responsive to that? Have they been in favour of it? Has any sort of work plan been initiated?
Sin é. I apologise but I have to go.
I welcome the witnesses. My first question is to Ms Anne Graham, chief executive of the National Transport Authority. On the competitive tender process for 10% of the bus service market which was announced in January 2015, can Ms Graham explain why there has been such a delay in the process? What is the status of the process now? When will the process be finalised?
On the extension of the DART to Balbriggan under the capital plan 2022, has a feasibility study been done on extending the service to Drogheda? This service would be very welcome in the town and would also attract a lot of customers. As we are all aware, there are a large number of residents in Drogheda who need to travel to Dublin on a daily basis.
My second question is to Mr. Richard Brady, assistant chief executive, environment and transportation, in Dublin City Council. In his opening statement, he stated that 500,000 people travel within Dublin city centre on a daily basis. He stated that approximately 235,000 of these are work related, 45,000 are education related and 120,000 are either visitors or shoppers. Is data available on what mode of transport is used by these 500,000 people each day? If so, is the most effective method of developing these transport strategies being used?
My last question is to Mr. Kevin Traynor of the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland. He mentioned in his opening submission that at present there is no designated transport hub which could be used by both private and public service operators. He also stated that section 62 of the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 has not been implemented. He raised his concerns about the lack of coach parking facilities in Dublin city centre. Can he elaborate on this and give this committee more insight into concerns in these areas? I have also noted in his opening statement his concerns about the lack of park and ride facilities in key commuter belts around Dublin city. I travel to the Dáil on at least three occasions weekly from my constituency office in Dundalk and each time I pass the park and ride facilities at the church in Beaumont. On almost every occasion, the car park is almost full. This confirms the success of such a facility. I would like to hear Mr. Traynor's views on park and ride facilities in a city like Dublin and where, in his opinion, we lack these facilities. As Mr. Conor Faughnan stated earlier, everyone has an interest in getting transport right.
I welcome all our guests before the committee. Mr. Faughnan from AA described our public transport in Dublin as "inefficient, unpredictable and frustrating". As somebody who drives into Dublin city three days a week, I can share some of that frustration, particularly in the last number of years as a result of construction work under way for the Luas. The glaring thing is that we launched the greater Dublin area transport strategy this year and despite having a strategy, we do not have the money to implement it. Despite having a plan, there is no money there to implement it. How will we address the crisis that is there at the moment? It is a crisis. Traffic is at a standstill between 7 a.m. and 9.30 a.m. Again in the evening it is like a car park, no matter what street one walks down. Can the witnesses identify how much of a funding shortfall there will be in terms of implementing the strategy for the greater Dublin area?
On the capital plan, the witnesses have identified four projects. What exactly is the status of each of those projects? What stage of planning are they at? If money was available tomorrow, how long would it take to deliver those four projects? Have we looked at any possible solutions in terms of what can be delivered in the short to medium term? None of these capital projects, even with the best will in the world and all the available capital, will be delivered in the short term. There have been suggestions about car pooling and I had it written down myself. It is amazing that there is no initiative or incentive for people to car pool. Have we looked at restricted delivery times in terms of lorries and delivery vans coming into the city? It is unbelievable that they come in and park on double yellow lines. They do not care about the ramifications of that. They are breaking the law but there is no other incentive against it. Can we look at incentivising deliveries coming into our capital city outside peak traffic times?
Mr. Brady from Dublin City Council said that the road and street space is at a premium. I read somewhere that along the quays and Bachelor's Walk is possibly the busiest location in Dublin city in terms of the cars, buses and lorries that go over it on a daily basis. There is car parking right along each side of the quays. Has anybody looked at the possibility of removing the car parking along the quays and diverting cars to multi-storey parking to increase the capacity along the quays? These are all things that could be done in the very short term.
It is unfortunate our taxi representatives are not here today. They were invited and that is to be acknowledged. Will Ms Graham indicate the reasons she thinks there has been such a significant drop in the number of taxi licences being issued by her department over the last five years? There has been a drop of 45%. What percentage of that relates to Dublin? What percentage of that relates to the rest of the country? In terms of Uber, do our guests feel it has a role to play in helping to address the issues we have at the moment? My colleague is right about the lack of park and ride facilities. Where they are provided, they are being greatly utilised. Have we looked at landbanks under the ownership of the State at present? Have we identified landbanks that could be used? I welcome the opinion of the witnesses on that.
On Transdev, my colleague asked about the profits that are being made. I am more interested in knowing how much of a subsidy Transdev has got to operate since the Luas commenced. What are the witnesses' opinion on the benefits of a Luas line or light rail network in terms of the initial outlay from a capital expenditure point of view as opposed to putting in a quality bus corridor? Perhaps the witnesses will talk about that.
I have another question for the representatives from the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland.
They identified several barriers which, if removed, could alleviate traffic congestion. One would imagine it was planned. This morning, I had a coffee with a commuter who told me one issue for private bus companies bringing commuters into the capital from Navan and Shercock is they have nowhere to park in the capital city. These bus services are bursting at the seams. How can they provide a return service to commuter towns like Navan for between €50 and €60 a week, yet Bus Éireann cannot compete with that? Reference was made to protecting the public service obligation, PSO. The big difference between Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and private bus operators is that if there is no money to be made on a route, the latter will not stay on it and to hell with those who need connectivity to go to work or school. The State has an obligation to ensure all our communities are connected. That is the reason we have a public service obligation.
The stifling of any innovation was mentioned. What type of innovation was being referred to?
I welcome the delegations. Mr. Faughnan made a point about car ownership but it is more about car usage and giving people a choice. I remember that exact point being made when I was on the consultative panel of the Dublin Transportation Initiative, DTI, a long time ago. It is a question of how we are using transport modes. That particular initiative looked at land use and transportation planning and one cannot separate the two. Car use and transport modes have changed. Another factor driving that change is our obligation on climate change. This means if we do not invest in public transport, we will pay hard cash for failing to meet targets. That is another imperative on us to invest in public transport and provide a choice.
How can we tackle the delays in the planning process and make it more efficient? College Green is a critical transport corridor for buses. I am all in favour of pedestrianising appropriate locations. However, that location has particular constraints. What is the best way to deal with this location?
The National Transport Authority referred to ensuring 55% of trips to work in 2035, or even before that, are made by sustainable modes. What are the significant ticket items which could deliver that? Would a myriad of smaller ticket items deliver any kind of result?
On the transport integration group, I am all in favour of that kind of collaboration. One group that always gets missed out, however, is the service-user. When I was on the DTI, useful inputs were made to it by public transport users. There were ideas which a user would bring forward that would not necessarily be immediately obvious to a provider. Is that part of the institutional arrangement?
I was in Trieste recently which has a smart transport network. What is the strategy of moving towards a non-diesel bus fleet? I was a particular fan of the DART underground and was horrified last year when the proposal fell off the tracks. That was described by Irish Rail as the game changer. Do the delegations agree that would be the big ticket item?
Park-and-ride is an important initiative. There is much evidence that people use park-and-ride because of distance, off-peak services and capacity. What makes it attractive and unattractive? Making better use of the road infrastructure and public transport infrastructure is what we should be all aiming to achieve.
I thank the speakers for their in-depth deliberations which I found informative. Ms Graham made the point that she needs €10 billion over the next 20 years to be on schedule, but, already, she is short €150 million per year for the next three years. Can funding be fast-tracked from the Government?
Dublin Airport is on a par with several airports around Europe and the world when it comes to capacity, particularly when it is talking about a second runway. However, will the metro be in place for this? It is ironic that we do not have a rail connection between the airport and city centre, which seems to be the icon of every other hub airport in Europe.
I welcome the Luas Cross City project, which is nearing completion. It could be a game changer, even for my own access to Dublin. I might be able to get into the Dáil quicker, change where I stay or I travel up and down every day.
I welcome Mr. Madden. It is good to see he is smiling after his boxing matches earlier in the year. Mr. Faughnan gives good interviews about road safety and good driving. We are coming up to Christmas. One of the big shopping days for country people is 8 December. Country people love driving to the shops. Obviously, there is an attempt to cut down car traffic into city centres. I would not rush into it and, instead, give us a chance to adapt to the changes of modes of transport.
Do the groups meet up as a statutory or joined-up thinking committee? Do they lobby the Government?
I have a few brief questions. Further to the point made by Deputy Troy about taking parking off streets and freeing up the space for traffic, has underground parking been considered as an option? I realise there is expense involved, as well as engineering challenges. However, there is also massive potential to generate revenue. Is it a viable option? Perhaps it would be easier to go underneath civic spaces or greenfield areas without causing structural difficulties above the surface. Has that been considered?
In the context of cycling, the space at the sides of canals or of some of the approach roads and even central reservation areas which have barriers seem to present an opportunity for cycling infrastructure. Has an audit been carried out of the viability of such infrastructure being put in place? Along those lines, the growth in passenger numbers on the Luas over the past ten years or so has been very impressive. Is there a way whereby somebody could get on the Luas in Tallaght with their bicycle, hop off at their stop and be able to cycle on to their destination? Could there be dedicated carriages for people with bicycles? Could consideration be given to whether that can be done, even if it is only at peak times?
I am thinking outside the box but some ideas might go nowhere while some might have merit. Thankfully, I am only in this city three days per week. I see the congestion. It is not a problem in rural south Kerry, so there is plenty of time to think about these matters when one is not in Dublin. The bikes scheme has worked very well and other cities around the country are seeking to roll it out. From the AA's point of view, although it is relevant for everyone, could something similar work with cars? Often people might make two journeys by private car even though, realistically, they could do one by car and the other by public transport. Could something like that help as part of the overall solution with regard to the commuter belt, in particular, and getting people to public transport hubs? There was investment in space for park and ride and where that is available it is used. Is there a specific funding stream from the Government for that or is it something that must come out of the overall budgets for various agencies? The witnesses might elaborate on that and I ask them to respond to the questions in the order in which they made their presentations.
Ms Anne Graham:
I will reply to Deputy Munster's questions. My colleague, Hugh Creegan, will also respond. The first question was about the rail review and whether we were surprised there was no additional allocation in the budget for next year. In fact, there has been an additional allocation of approximately €50 million for Iarnród Éireann for next year. That goes some way towards meeting the underfunding in the provision of rail services. On investment, the Deputy will be aware that consultation is taking place on the rail review and the funding of rail in the future. We do not wish to say what our policy perspective is as we wish to wait and see what the consultation delivers in terms of how the public and other stakeholders feel, after which we will present a report on it.
Regarding rural towns, we always wish to ensure there is public transport available to all rural towns and to support rural transport, even to the house. Our policy would always be to provide as much public transport as is feasible, particularly to isolated areas and rural towns. However, whether it is provided by bus or rail is something we will consider as part of the rail review.
There was a question about providing school and college transport services. It was addressed to the representatives of DCC, but is more appropriate for ourselves as the provider of public transport. We do not have a particular responsibility to provide school transport services in the city. In fact, the legislation does not allow us to provide those services. However, the existing public transport provides services for students at primary and secondary school and at college. Obviously, we wish to provide more of that, subject to funding.
Deputy Fitzpatrick asked why there has been a delay in the competitive tender process. There has been some delay. Obviously, it is a very detailed process. It is the first time we have carried out this tender and it, along with the Dublin metropolitan tender, will be received in January. We expect the successful tenderer will be operating services at the beginning of 2018. It is similar for the other two competitions, which are smaller. They are going through the process as well. One is for the Waterford transport services and the other is for the Kildare commuter services. We expect tenders to be completed and services operating by the start of 2018.
Mr. Hugh Creegan:
With regard to the DART to Balbriggan, that is the first phase in bringing the DART to Drogheda. The DART expansion programme, which is the full region-wide programme to expand DART services, includes expanding the DART system up to Drogheda. The DART to Balbriggan would be the first phase of that.
Ms Anne Graham:
Deputy Troy made a point about the funding shortfall. We have presented that we require €500 million for the provision of the transport services we believe are required for the region over the next 20 years. The shortfall is in the order of €300 million per year. Obviously, we would like that level of funding to be made available so we can meet the objectives of the transport strategy. Four projects are in planning.
Mr. Hugh Creegan:
The Deputy referred to the four projects. Regarding the new metro north project, there is a design team in place and it has started the design work on redesigning that project and reducing its cost. That is under way. On the DART underground, the decision made last year was that the project had to be redesigned with a lower cost solution brought forward. We and Irish Rail have started working jointly on that. The third is the DART to Balbriggan project mentioned a moment ago. We have not started work on that yet. Our funding profile means that design work on it will start in about a year. The fourth project is the national train control centre. Work is reasonably well advanced on that and we expect to go to tender for procurement of a new system and building for the control centre during 2017.
Mr. Hugh Creegan:
The Deputy also asked about taxis. There has been a big drop in the number of taxi driving licences from a peak of approximately 47,000 in 2008 to approximately 27,000 now. Not all 47,000 licences were active licences. At that point, it was very cheap and much easier to get taxi driving licences, and many people were holding them but not using them.
In the meantime, the fee has increased. This accounts for a large amount of the drop. Effectively, there was an oversupply in the industry for a long time which has now reduced significantly. These are the reasons the numbers have decreased from the peak of a few years ago.
Ms Anne Graham:
At present, Uber plays a role as a dispatcher and operates within the taxi licensing system. Our view is it should remain as a provider but use licensed drivers and vehicles. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked about the big ticket items in delivering the strategy. We suggest every item in the strategy is needed to meet the 55% commuting trips. The big spends are metro north and the DART underground, but across the board we believe every item must be provided including rail, light rail, bus and the demand management measures. These all contribute to delivering the transport strategy.
Mr. Hugh Creegan:
The Deputy also asked about green buses. For a number of years we have been monitoring what is available, but green vehicle technology is more expensive and our choice was whether to buy enough buses to keep the system running or buy a smaller number of newer technology buses. We bought the latest version of conventional diesel powered buses, but there is an expectation that additional funding will be made available to us to allow us invest in either compressed natural gas, CNG, buses or electric buses, whichever comes forward, over the coming years. They are a little more expensive.
We are awaiting the strategy from each of the sectors on our climate obligations, and transport is one of the big sectors. Is this a component of the decision making? Is additional funding available to make a better choice? A bus will last a long time, and making a good choice may well save money in the longer run.
Mr. Hugh Creegan:
Our plan is being developed to cover transport and how it will achieve the various obligations in this arena. We have been in dialogue with it. At present, no extra funding is available to us but the hope is that, quite soon, sufficient funding will be available to cover the difference between conventionally-powered technology and the greener technology many people would like to see us use.
Ms Anne Graham:
Deputy O'Keeffe spoke about funding. We indicated that €500 million over the next 20 years is the minimum required to meet the public transport requirements for the next 20 years. As was indicated, Dublin Airport is growing very fast, with passenger numbers of approximately 20 million to 25 million per year. Our ambition and objective is to serve this with public transport, and metro north is the proposal to do so. It is due to be in place and operational in 2026. Luas cross city will provide access to the city and we would be delighted if committee members use it to access the city centre.
The committee we have established is not a statutory committee, but one we put in place so operators can discuss and share best practice on common issues such as ticketing issues and anti-social behaviour.
A key area which has arisen is park and ride, which is included in the strategy. We would like to provide it as an early part of the transport strategy. Any additional funding that would be made available for transport we would like to put towards park and ride facilities associated with good quality public transport.
Ms Anne Graham:
Not that I am aware of. Certainly at any facility operated adjacent to a rail station we have not had any reports of any major security issues. Cork City Council operates a very successful park and ride facility. It is really about ensuring good and regular public transport adjacent to the park and ride to make it attractive. This is the challenge in the provision of park and ride facilities.
Mr. Hugh Creegan:
The transport strategy referred to earlier has identified various locations. Coming from the south east we identified that when a DART station is built in Woodbrook, north of Bray, there is the possibility of having a strategic park and ride site there. In the meantime, we might look to see if we can expand park and ride facilities at Greystones, which is at the southern end of the DART system. I could pick various examples. Another is on the N4 corridor in Lucan, where there is potential to put something close to the Quarryvale junction. The issue is how we get a good transport service because it is not on a rail line. Park and ride on its own without a good transport service alongside it does not work. It goes back to the core bus corridors mentioned earlier. They must be good enough that the journey from that position to the city centre is fast and reliable each time. Various other locations have been identified and these are just a few examples.
Mr. Richard Brady:
Deputy Munster asked Dublin City Council several questions, including one on plans for cycle lanes. There are plans for cycleways, with some of them under construction and others at planning stage. There are plans for a cycleway from Sutton to Sandycove, and the cycleway from Clontarf to the city centre is up and running. The Chairman was interested in looking at the possibility of using towpaths near canals for the use of bicycles, and this is already in hand on the Royal Canal greenway and the Grand Canal greenway. There are other proposals for cycleways for the city. This is in hand.
We were asked whether €150 million is sufficient. Like everything else, it was sufficient for the city centre works we set out in the Dublin transportation study, but if anybody out there has more money they wish to give I am sure we would be able to find suitable projects for it.
We support the National Transport Authority in seeking the funds set out in the relevant plans.
Deputy Fitzpatrick asked about the breakdown of the numbers from the city council. Basically, they mainly come from canal cordon counts, as we count people heading into the city centre and the mode of transport they use.
Are no surveys being done on the kind of transport being used by people in the city centre? In fairness, Mr. Faughnan gives some statistics in his report. Is there anything being done to determine the kind of transport being used in the city centre? There are 250,000 people on work-related journeys, with 45,000 on education-related journeys. What kind of transport is used by them? Has Dublin City Council done a survey on that?
Mr. Brendan O'Brien:
We have and I can elaborate on that. We have a number of surveys in the city centre looking specifically at all the people moving there. Along with public transport companies, we classify how many people are on board buses on particular approaches, how many cars are passing, how many passengers are in those cars, how many people are on public transport, including buses, the Luas and the DART, as well as how many people cycle and walk into the city. Within the city centre we do what we call screen line counts across all the bridges in the city centre as well in order to identify how people are moving in the city centre. We also rely on census data, which is a key indicator, and from that we get information on how people travel from home to work. What can be difficult and has not been done on the street for a long time is the stopping of every car to see where they are going and the purpose of the journey. It causes massive disruption.
The information in the census data is a key element used for planning. It allows us to determine in the square kilometre of the city centre the fact that only approximately 9% of people travel by car, with the rest using public transport and walking. As we move further out, we can determine the mode used by people. We have both daily counts from systems of the number of vehicles and cyclists. In combination with public transport companies we do a survey year on year that allows us track the way public transport or car traffic moves, or how cycling has grown. That is the main element going into the mix for how we determine how many people are moving around the city and the mode they use.
What are the impediments in terms of changing the mode of transport, for example moving people from using the car for short hops? It can be quite expensive for bus trips of one or two stops in the city centre. Is that an impediment or something that can be measured?
Ms Anne Graham:
We look at the impediments, particularly when changing modes. This is not necessarily from car to bus but from bus to another bus or bus to a Luas tram. With the Leap card, the second journey discount and capping, we remove many of the barriers associated with moving from one mode to another. The number of operators using the Leap card is expanding all the time. This relates not just to operators with a public service obligation but some of our commercial operators as well. That is one of the key determinants of somebody changing from bus to another mode of transport.
There is also the issue of journey time. One area we wish to examine next year with the network of bus services is improving the interchange from bus to bus so there is better coverage of services across Dublin city. This means not everything must come to the city centre and people would not have to interchange there. We might look at other interchange points in the outer areas of the city centre to encourage better interchange.
Mr. Brendan O'Brien:
The question relates to on-street parking and whether we considered removing some of it. Throughout the city centre, road space is at a premium. The dublinbikes scheme resulted in removal of some on-street parking and the various iterations of Luas have removed much on-street parking. On the quays and from Capel Street bridge onwards, as part of our planned cycling infrastructure - the Liffey cycle route - we will be removing substantial amounts of car parking along the quay wall. We will replace that with a segregated two-way cycle track along the quays. We must always have the balance between the needs of people in the city, commercial needs and the road space itself. Normally, on-street parking is a case of having it where we can fit it in or where there is a real residential necessity. The encouragement of people to live in the city centre has been successful in the past number of years, as that number has grown. Far more of the parking on the quays will be removed and given over to transportation.
Mr. Brendan O'Brien:
The number of spaces is not particularly huge and there is parking off the quays. We also have off-street multi-storey car parks in the area. As part of the markets development off Capel Street, the city council is looking at the prospect of having a multi-storey car park in the area. We think the parking provision will be reasonably consistent, even taking into account what will happen here. I repeat that as a result of the Luas projects, we lost several hundred parking spaces. There is a necessity to serve the better public transport and transportation needs. Sometimes parking must be removed.
Mr. Brendan O'Brien:
We have quite a few coach spaces in the city centre.
There is certainly a problem in the city centre to the extent that we do not have an enormous amount of space for coaches. However, we have tried to make coach parking available, particularly on Nassau Street. In conjunction with the NTA, there has been a move to develop a specific coach parking area. Perhaps the representatives of the NTA wish to comment on that but Dublin City Council would certainly support such a development. Given the street space and number of streets in the city centre that are sufficiently wide for coach parking, the amount of space available for coaches and buses is significant, although it is not sufficient for the number of coaches in the city. It should be made clear, however, that we will never be able to cope with the number of coaches that could potentially be in the city.
Mr. Brendan O'Brien:
Dublin City Council operates a number of multi-storey car parks in the city centre. There are also a large number of private operators of car parks. We have not investigated in any great detail the possibility of going underground with car parking for a number of reasons. Cost is one reason, as are the archaeological elements that one finds, especially in the city centre. It is part of the city council's strategy to ensure that car parking spaces and access to car parks are maintained for people on shopping trips and so forth. There is always a difference in perspective in respect of commuter trips, which we hope will transfer to public transport, walking or cycling, and shopping trips. We recognise that we have to provide shoppers with sufficient car park spaces in the city centre and access to them. This is part of the strategy we are working through.
Mr. Richard Brady:
Deputy Catherine Murphy asked about the current position in respect of plans for College Green. As she will be aware, the proposals will be the subject of a statutory process in which an environmental impact assessment will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála, which will make the final decision.
Deputy O'Keeffe asked a question about people travelling to Dublin at Christmas time, specifically on 8 December. Operation Open City is an annual event under which obstacles for commuters visiting Dublin by car or other means are removed. Road works cease, for example, to ensure the city is open and it is convenient for people to move around the city.
Mr. Richard Brady:
Some of the questions raised by the Chairman have been answered. The only issue that was not addressed was the bicycle scheme, dublinbikes. As members will be aware, Dublin City Council is anxious to extend dublinbikes further and is working through this process to enable it to carry out the next phases of this extremely successful scheme.
Is there scope to do more in this area? I understand that the schemes to which Mr. Brady refers are consumer or passenger-driven in nature, rather than based on securing benefits in terms of reduced congestion. Have other cities introduced car rental schemes from a public policy point of view, as distinct from an individual service user point of view?
Mr. Brendan O'Brien:
Most of the cities implementing such schemes do so from a user point of view. However, they try to ensure the schemes are integrated, which means a city with a bike scheme will try to facilitate a car sharing scheme in a mobility hub. We are looking at this possibility. In general, the car sharing schemes are driven by the private sector in most cities that I have seen.
Mr. Conor Faughnan:
We were asked when we put forward suggestions for car-pooling and whether we received a response. People remember a scheme known as the Clare Street initiative, which was introduced about ten years ago by the then Minister of State with responsibility for the matter, Mr. Ivor Callely. The AA produced a document on the initiative at the time. I would be happy to share it with the joint committee and I hope members will read it because the scheme had considerable potential. The acid test for such a scheme is to ensure it does not inhibit the bus service. However, even within those constraints, the scheme had potential. We will revive the document and circulate it to the joint committee.
A couple of specific questions were addressed to the AA. Deputy Troy's question on Uber has been answered. Deputy Catherine Murphy stated that car usage is more important than car ownership. This goes to the heart of the transport conversation. Dublin's rate of car ownership is not untypical of any similar European city. Profile-wise, there is nothing unusual about ownership here. The issue is less one of car usage in an absolute sense and more about the tidal flow usage of cars for commuting. This is where one has people arriving in the city centre between 6.30 a.m. and 8.30 a.m. and then trying to get home between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. This tidal flow movement by car is the root cause of all of our transport problems in the city. Outside of those times, the city copes perfectly well. The issue, therefore, is to provide alternatives in order that individuals do not find themselves compelled to travel in an out of work by car. As I indicated, we have made this option inherently more difficult through our land use and planning strategies, which involve building further and further from the city centre.
Deputy Catherine Murphy also referred to the planning process. I am aware that the Dublin transport initiative and the Dublin Transport Office which emerged from it were being discussed before Mr. Aldworth arrived and started to take notes. As I stated, the M50 was built at a rate of 1 km per annum for 30 years, which is mad by international standards. One section of the M50, which approximates to the Dundrum to Knocklyon section, was supposed to be open earlier than the northern section but this did not happen because of an argument about compulsory purchase orders continued for five or six years before eventually being settled on the steps of the Supreme Court. Even now, one sees that this stretch follows an odd, S-shaped route that was chosen as part of the compromise that emerged from the argument on the compulsory purchase orders.
The reason the Red Cow Luas route travels through Citywest is that the route chosen was across a land bank that happened to belong to CIE at the time. This is a crazy approach to planning. If we wind the clock back 25 years, at that time, anyone who wanted to run a Luas line from Tallaght into the city centre would have built it through the Walkinstown roundabout to serve the residential areas on either side of that route. That route would have been only two thirds the length of the route that was eventually chosen.
The reason that route alignment was chosen was to match the landbank that already belonged to CIE. That is what I am talking about regarding land use and planning and how the tail tends to wag the dog in this city and country.
I have been living in Knocklyon for 20 years. We bought our first house and then a second house there. That area was green fields 20 years ago. When it was being developed people suggested that the alignment and space be preserved for a future Luas line but that was not done. It was filled in with development. When we focus on that area now it would be difficult to provide a Luas route because it was all filled in and now it can only be done either at enormous expense or with the provision of less efficient buses. I appreciate it is a very complicated area and does not lend itself to a glib solution, but one of the reasons it is complex is that we may have created a big problem for ourselves when the area was being developed.
Another point that was made is that we must reduce car usage to meet our climate change commitments. I would like to make a few points on that. First, I do not disagree and I support any and all measures we can take to reduce car usage, particularly for commuters, because we must do that. However, the private car gets a bad deal out of this because of all the sources of CO2 and climate change emissions in our country, the sector that has made the most progress is the private car and its contribution to emissions has been steadily reducing. When one gets statistics on this area, one will frequently see a reference to the transport sector, not to private cars. The transport sector includes road freight, rail and shipping and aviation is not included under any heading. We frequently hear that the transport sector accounts for 18% emissions and that we must do something about private car usage but we do not hear that the emissions being generated by private car component are steadily reducing. To put this in context, if we can imagine a family of four using a band B car that is bought now, a 162 D registered car which would be a decent sized family car, that car would have to clock up more 16,000 km per year before CO2 emissions from its tailpipe would match what the family produce through breathing in a year, yet we continually hear the private car being mentioned as if it was the only thing in the country that was contributing to emissions. If we are fair about climate change, even in its role in this conversation, then we are being singularly unfair to the private car. I do not deny that we have man-made climate change or the fact that we must meet our commitments. If there was no climate change I still think we would have to do that because fossil fuels are finite; Ireland does not own any but every time we put a litre of petrol into a car, it is money we have to give to an Arab sheikh or to somebody else. I would much rather we were doing that more sensibly and keeping the money in Ireland. There are many reasons we should be concentrating on reducing car usage, not least to improve the urban streetscape and so on. The issue of climate change in particular is too often used as an excuse to demonise the private car user and, in so dong, to ignore the real causes of climate change which are the real contributors of emissions from Ireland. That is an important point to make.
On the question about whether it is critical to have buses on College Green, I know that An Bord Pleanála will ultimately make the decision on that. I like the idea of having a lovely city centre space which, relatively speaking, we do not have in Dublin. I visited Montpelier recently, which is served by nothing but Luas-type trams and I believe its trams are the same make and model as the Luas trams. When one hears the bell on the tram give three dings, one would think one was in Stephen's Green. Those trams are throughout that city centre and it is a wonderful experience. The French have managed to create lovely open spaces. If College Green was done well, it could be lovely; I appreciate that currently it is critical to have buses there but perhaps it is far less critical to have cars. However, if we remove capacity from the transport network, we must give intelligent thought for what happens next. To pick up on Deputy Ó Cuív's point, Dublin is a retail and commercial centre also and we need to hear those voices. It is perfectly possible to make Dublin so park-like that people could have a picnic in College Green but we are in danger of killing the city if you do not properly listen to the voices that I sometimes hear disparaged as vested interests on the grounds that they invested money in Dublin so somehow their position is jaundiced. We have to listen to businesses, retailers, carpark owners and those who cause Dublin city to be the economic engine of the country. I accept that Dublin is not just for Dubliners. Neither is Dublin just for transport planners who love bicycles and the Luas. Dublin is an engine of economic growth and we have make sure that it continues to be.
Mr. Gerry Madden:
Deputy Munster asked a few questions. The first one related to targets for the contract we have and how we are doing. Ultimately, we are managed on a day to day, week to week basis by Transport Infrastructure Ireland and without going into all the detail of all the metrics, there are some obvious key performance indicators, KPIs, and some important ones I would mention. Safety is the number one priority for ourselves as an operator, for Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the National Transport Authority. On-time reliability services follows closely behind that and the third is customer satisfaction. Those are three of the main ones we need to produce evidence of on a daily, weekly and formally on a monthly basis for a contract review meeting that is held between ourselves and Transport Infrastructure Ireland where any key actions or slippage from targets is discussed, formally documented and actions are put in place.
It is probably not appropriate for me to say that TransDev is doing a great job against all those metrics, that is more of a question for Transport Infrastructure Ireland but, broadly speaking, in terms of our safety record and following the process we have for monthly contract review meetings, we have an exemplary safety record. On our on-time reliability services regarding Luas trams, there are some challenges for us in the same way as there are for any operator in the city where things happen outside of our control and sometimes within our control, which means we do not have every tram running to schedule every hour of the day. If that happens, that is very transparent and Transport Infrastructure Ireland has a contract in place with us where we would incur financial penalties for that when that happens.
In terms of customer satisfaction, we have a series of ways of measuring that and that is externally measured. We work in partnership with Transport Infrastructure Ireland. We carry out a series of surveys for customers who can go online to tell us what they think. We also go out and meet our customers three or four times a year with members of Transport Infrastructure Ireland and we get a very live feedback through written and electronic responses from our customers as to how we are doing. I would much rather Transport Infrastructure Ireland was rating us, so the members would know that it is coming from the horse's mouth, but if I was speaking on its behalf, I believe it would say we are doing well against all those metrics. However, we can always improve.
Deputy Munster also asked about the profitability and if we make any profits where they go. I should not make light of such a question but it is not a headache I have had to worry about for the past two years. We did not make a profit last year. We will not make a profit this year.
Congestion on the Luas was the next question in terms of whether we have considered extending the trams. I will not take the credit for this because the credit should go to the National Transport Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland, but the new trams that are coming onstream for Luas cross-city in 2017 are longer trams. Regardless of the number of trams we have or how long they are, during peak times we will always have challenges in terms of capacity. Only recently we put in some additional services on the green line to improve the services for green line users because we had a particular pinch point on that line. Ultimately, the number of trams we run, their length and whether they carry bikes is something that the National Transport Authority, with Transport Infrastructure Ireland, would determine but we are always open to looking at ways of improving the capacity.
On the bike point, we are watching with interest what is happening because they are running a trial where bikes are allowed onto the network. However, there are some challenges with that. I am not a bike user but if I was to take a bike onto the network in Edinburgh, apparently I would need to have a Brompton bike which can be folded away and take up little or no space. I am also led to believe they are quite expensive. If we were to do that, even on a trial basis, that would be something that the National Transport Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland would probably lead and on which we would have a conversation. We are always open to exploring ideas that ultimately improve the customer experience but there are pros and cons to that.
We are not there yet but it is not an idea that is totally lost on us. I think I have covered Deputy Munster's questions.
Deputy Troy asked whether we receive subsidies. We do not. We are a private operator and are paid a fee to run the Luas for Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the National Transport Authority.
Mr. Gerry Madden:
The details of that are subject to commercial confidence but I would be happy to submit a response afterwards.
The Deputy's second point was on the benefits or otherwise of investing for a network Luas, as opposed to a bus network. That is not a question for me to answer because we do not invest money for this purpose. The authority does this. I cannot give the actual return on investment to the Deputy but, in view of how long the Luas has been running for and the growth in passenger numbers, it has been very successful.
Deputy O'Keeffe noted that I have been smiling more than usual recently. That is good because there has been too much focus on the negative aspects of 2016, in particular on the dispute. The Luas has been very successful in the past 12 years because its people are our greatest asset, despite what has been said in the media. This will continue into 2017, which will be a massive year for Luas cross-city. Our success is down to our front-line people, our drivers, ticket inspectors and traffic supervisors and, post-dispute, local shop stewards and I are working really hard to move this forward and work together in partnership.
Mr. Kevin Traynor:
Deputies Munster and Troy asked about the PSOs. CTTC recognises there will always be a need for PSO services. My point about stifling innovation is that when a private operator looks for a route licence, he is prevented from doing so if a PSO is on it. We need to look at existing PSO funding in the context of population diversification and densities and at the change in social status in some areas. We need to see if PSOs are commercially viable in certain areas and, if necessary, bring them to other areas where they are needed.
I concur with Deputy Fitzpatrick on the park-and-ride infrastructure. A colleague and I parked in Beaumont church today and took public transport from there. If it is affordable and if there is an increased frequency of services, a park-and-ride facility which uses the existing corridors will act as an incentive to people to use public transport going forward. There needs to be an innovative approach to looking at what land use is available, including the use of underground space. Land usage is at a premium in the capital city but there are ways around the problem.
Deputy Fitzpatrick also asked about the transport hub. Dublin is one of the few capitals in Europe that does not have a designated transport hub. A stranger coming to Ireland who does not know that private coaches go to different locations in the evenings and mornings would go to the central transport hub. If there are no alternative State-provided services, that person does not know where to look for the private services. The problem with the existing infrastructure is that there is virtually no surplus capacity. To be realistic about the delivery of public transport and the private input into it, we will have to look at the funding structure to create something.
The coach park is a very good initiative and we welcome it but 50 coach spaces will not make a huge difference at peak times. The other problem is that the planning permission on that location only has a five-year duration and is subject to a number of conditions, one being that if the underground DART facility goes ahead, the planning is revoked. There is no alternative at present.
I asked the guests about their opinion on using restricted delivery times for coming into the capital city. I also asked representatives from Dublin City Council about parking along the quays. Mr. O'Brien said spaces could be lost due to the new cycle network that was proposed at a council meeting earlier today. He was asked by the Chairman how those spaces would be compensated for and he said that not too many spaces would be lost. Where will the network go from? The quays are the busiest arteries into he city. From Heuston Station to the headquarters for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, there is a huge amount of space being utilised for car parking. There are so many alternatives in the way of private car parking and new multi-storey parking which is coming on stream, could we not increase the capacity along the quays in addition to what is being proposed as regards cycle paths? Cars are now becoming super-efficient from the point of view of CO2 and emissions and do not do the damage of which they were once accused. Has this possibility been looked at?
Mr. Brendan O'Brien:
There are places in Dublin city where we restrict deliveries, such as into pedestrian locations up to 11 o'clock. We also have time-plated loading bays and it has been recognised that willy-nilly deliveries into the city centre cause a problem. We are starting work on a managed delivery strategy in the city centre because the introduction of Luas cross-city will make deliveries into certain streets virtually impossible and we have to look at alternative means of getting deliveries in. We are also doing a pilot which takes deliveries in while distributing them using other methods, such as people on electric bicycles and on foot. We are well aware of the problem and are doing work on it.
The quays are a key artery for public transport into the city. The Liffey cycle route is designed to cater for the growing number of cyclists coming into the city and linking in to the other cycle routes which criss-cross the city centre. At various locations between Capel Street bridge back to the Four Courts, all the car parking will be removed. The locations to which the Deputy referred are the wider parts of the quays and, while we have some space for limited parking on the side of buildings, even if we converted a lane after Capel Street, we would lose that lane because we do not have the continuous width.
It widens out and narrows again but basically, one has two lanes. I reiterate we have public transport at present and will put in more cycling provision. Moreover, we will increase the amount of bus lanes, bus provision and bus stops along the quays to grow the public transport in that area. I suppose the point I was making was that some of the parking in those specific areas will be removed. Some of the parking on the building side will be removed to provide bus stops but it is at the wider part of the quays and is not reflected further down. The point is it would not necessarily increase the capacity of the overall quays. Unfortunately, the quays vary in width as one goes along them and it is not as simple as saying there is a line of car-parking that we can remove from the entire length of the quays to increase the capacity. I can assure the committee that we look for any capacity we can find in the city.
I use the buses regularly as I travel from Dundalk to Dublin on a regular enough basis. I am a little concerned that there is no place in Dublin where a public bus and a commercial bus can work together. What will happen here in the future? Business is starting to pick up and many more workers are starting to commute to Dublin. What is the plan to facilitate these buses to park in Dublin? The buses suit me because they run every hour, up and down the road. We work in the Dáil here. We have unsocial hours. Like most others, I know that if I leave here at 11 p.m. or midnight, I can jump on a bus. What are the plans to facilitate these buses parking in the future? The train is good, but it runs at different hours. For those who may work unsocial hours, these buses do a fantastic job. I am concerned. Nothing said today has convinced me that in the future we will solve the position with these buses. Can Dublin City Council do something for us there or can Mr. O'Brien give me some kind of commitment for the future?
Mr. Brendan O'Brien:
At present we provide quite a lot of bus and coach parking in the city centre. As the Deputy says, it is not enough. We are committed to providing more and better bus stops at various different locations. We have been working with Dublin Bus over the years to take away much of the on-street parking in the city centre, which is an ineffective use of space, and we have been identifying other locations where parking can take place. We do not want buses to be laying over in the city centre because that is not an effective use of the space. For example, for the coaches beside us here on Nassau Street, we have introduced the 30-minute turnaround, thus avoiding a coach parking up all day and occupying that space.
With a lot of space in the city centre, we want it to be used productively. As we grow through this, as part of the city centre study we had identified a number of hubs in the city centre that we wanted to focus on, namely, Heuston Station, Connolly Station and D'Olier Street, to start to bring together the different services such as the Luas, the bus and DART services and make it a much more coherent interchange. That is part of what the city centre study was about. It was to look at the disparate way that we use transport at present and try to bring them together.
As for providing a lot of coach parking in the city centre, for example, we have a lot of coach parking and bus parking on Merrion Square but get a lot of criticism for the use of the square for that purpose. In the city centre, we prefer to provide the stops to have passenger turnover quite quickly, as in the case of the coach park which is a first step in this regard. The idea of the coach park is that passengers can be dropped and the coach can go off, can wait and can come back to collect them rather than stop on the city centre street and occupy it, for example, for a number of hours. That is the key point there. I accept the point that in the city centre we are short of space but we are trying to maximise it. A fast turnover of buses at stops is a key element for us.
Mr. Kevin Traynor:
The previous speaker mentioned Nassau Street, for example. The coach park is approximately 20 minutes from the core city area of College Green. There are legal restrictions under the working time directive and on driving time. The Chairman will be aware how long it takes to travel up from his constituency. A driver can only drive for four and a half hours before he has to take a break. Basically, my concerns are that if there is a short time duration in Nassau Street and the driver is at his optimum time, he does not have time to go down the 20 minutes and back the 20 minutes, taking into account the traffic congestion. While I accept there is limited parking, the problem is there has to be some space provided for a temporary lay-off to allow the driver to take his 45-minute break, particularly if he is picking up passengers in that College Green locale within, say, an hour or whatever, if they are visiting Trinity College and going on. That is a major consideration for the future.
Deputy Fitzpatrick made a valid point that private operators are getting licences from the National Transport Authority to provide scheduled route services. The State providers have designated coach-parking hubs where they can park vehicles up and clients can go to. There is no provision there for the private operator in terms of route licences and that is where our main concerns are.
I have just two questions, one of which is on a good note. Ms Graham stated that the National Transport Authority reviewed its overall strategy, the Dublin Transport Initiative. Originally, I was led to believe, an outer orbital route was proposed because of the M50 being overloaded. Has that gone off the plans?
On a good note, as we all will be aware, the IRFU is bidding for the 2023 World Cup. We see what happened in Thurles. It lost out because they said Thurles does not have enough accommodation and road infrastructure access. Obviously, the IRFU also has been on to the National Transport Authority. Should the IRFU be successful, will the National Transport Authority have all its infrastructure in place? Will new buses be bought? What else will be happening?
Mr. Hugh Creegan:
I will take the first part of that anyway. The orbital route the Deputy mentioned was something that was called the Leinster orbital route. It was sometimes referred to as the outer orbital route and it passed from Drogheda, Navan and Trim to Naas. It was designed by the then National Roads Authority, NRA, a number of years ago. That is incorporated in our transport strategy as a corridor that should be preserved, reflecting a point that was made earlier. On its own, it has a €2 billion price tag against it and we do not see it happening in the short term.
I thank all of the witnesses for coming in. It was a lengthy meeting of almost two and a half hours. I thank them for their time. They all are busy people. It is much appreciated. I thank the committee members and everyone involved.