Thursday, 28 September 2006
Róisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Labour)
I trust the Chair will give ten minutes to my question. I asked the Minister if it is still Government policy to encourage people from private to public transport. There is no evidence that it is. Between 2001 and this year only 20 buses were provided in the Dublin area. As I have often said to the Minister, on Westmoreland Street every evening one can see hundreds, if not thousands, of people being refused access to buses because the number of buses is inadequate. The Minister has mentioned various figures today. Under the NDP, by the end of this year he is supposed to have provided Dublin Bus with 183 additional buses. They are still owed to Dublin Bus. The Minister tried to long-finger this over the past 18 months. He asked for and received a review early this year and was told Dublin Bus could provide the services required to meet demand if it received an extra 200 buses. The Minister has said he will authorise 100 buses. Can he clarify what he intends regarding the other 100 buses Dublin Bus says it requires?
It is cold comfort to those who live close to the quality bus corridors, which were recently provided at great inconvenience to drivers and considerable expense, to see that there is not a single bus on them. This is intolerable and the Minister should be ashamed of it. There is an urgent need for buses to be provided on those QBCs and to enhance the number of buses on existing routes, as the queues at any bus stop morning and evening will demonstrate. Will the Minister explain his proposals on the second batch of 100 buses? These buses are overdue.
Will the Minister also explain what regulation he plans? He is about to dismantle a good, integrated and co-ordinated network that encompasses a degree of expertise on the wider Dublin area's bus needs. There is a danger that if the Minister dismantles that he will appoint a new regulator who will know nothing about the area and will not have the expertise, and it could take a number of years to recover and return to the current position. Will the Minister confirm that Dublin Bus will still manage the overall network? It is a specialised area in which there is limited expertise.