Thursday, 16 December 2021
Ceisteanna (Atógáil) - Questions (Resumed) - Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
The Minister holds responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. It is the NTA that has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public passenger transport services nationally. The NTA also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of the rural transport programme which operates under the Transport For Ireland Local Link brand. The NTA works with the relevant transport companies that are responsible for the day-to-day operation of the services.
From a policy perspective, the Minister has made his beliefs clear that there is a need for a fundamental change in the nature of transport in Ireland. The Department has been undertaking a review of sustainable mobility policy, which incorporates public transport in rural areas. We intend to develop a new policy framework for the next ten years that can provide a strategic backdrop to the increased investment planned by this Government across the sustainable mobility programme and we hope to publish our new sustainable mobility policy early next year.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Covid-19 public health emergency has had a profound and swift shock on the public transport sector. Government support for all public transport services in 2020 amounted to €620 million. For 2021, more than €670 million has been provided in public service obligation, PSO, funding in order to ensure the existing level of public transport services, albeit at a higher cost, continue to operate in a safe manner. By comparison, the level of PSO and LocalLink funding provided in 2019 was in the region of €300 million.
I know of the Deputy's deep interest in the development of public transport services generally and more specifically in respect of the two areas she mentioned. I am advised by the NTA that, in addition to rail services from Laytown, commuter services are provided from Bettystown and Laytown by Matthews Coaches. These are commercial services and are licensed by the NTA. The NTA has no role in the setting of fares for commercial services.
On bus services, the NTA has indicated that Bettystown and Laytown are considered suburbs of Drogheda when planning their public transport services. Routes D1 and D2 provide four bus services linking both centres to Laytown station to the south and the town of Drogheda to the north west.