Thursday, 28 September 2006
Eamon Ryan (Dublin South, Green Party)
The key figure of the Government's record is that capacity has increased by 40%. I agree with Deputy Shortall that more buses were promised that were not delivered. According to Dublin Bus official figures the volume of bus passengers in this city decreased last year while transport numbers increased by 80%. Is that not an example of the incompetent manner in which the Government has managed our transport system? Bus passenger numbers decreased at a time when we needed to switch people to buses and they were queuing at the stops, as Deputy Shortall said.
I have three questions for the Minister. Why, in August 2000, were we able to produce a report on a new institutional regulatory framework for public transport, page 19 of which recommends that within a year we would establish a regulatory authority to do exactly what the Minister has committed to do today? It was promised six years ago. What happened six years ago to prevent that from being implemented? What has been happening over the past five years as that sat on the shelf and Dublin passengers stood on the side of the road?
The new regulator should be given the full strategic role of designing the bus network in this city. It needs to be radically changed. We need to leave the 1950s and enter the 21st century. We require a mesh of bus services and new routes, not just in the expanding communities of which Deputy Mitchell spoke, but in existing areas. In my area the 75, 17 and 18 orbital bus routes do not work. One never knows when the buses are coming and they go all around the world. We need new orbital bus services to replace those services and provide fast frequency services. Will the regulator be able to regulate the routes and design the network for Dublin Bus routes as well as the private ones?
I am still uncertain of the Minister's meaning. If only 15% of the new routes are to be opened and 100 buses made available to the private sector, the Progressive Democrats have obviously caved in. I would like the Minister to explain it in more detail. What roll-out to the private sector does the Minister envisage? Will it apply only to new routes? Will the changes consist only of new private sector routes tagged onto the existing network or does the Minister plan a comprehensive review of the Dublin bus service? A comprehensive review is needed.