Tuesday, 10 May 2022
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I reassure the Deputy that both the National Transport Authority, NTA, and the Department of Transport have been engaging directly with the commercial bus operators to help inform policy decisions with regard to the public transport sector, especially those related to the ongoing impact of Covid on the sector, and with regard to the various fare initiatives being introduced this year.
In addition to the working group that I referenced earlier, the Department of Transport has been engaging with the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland, CTTC, since May 2020. To date, 23 meetings have taken place. More recently on 25 March, the Minister, Deputy Ryan, met with the CTTC to discuss its concerns and the key issues facing the sector. While it is not intended to include the commercial operators as part of the 20% average fare reduction initiative, which is due to run to the end of 2022, it is intended to include these operators as part of the long-term young adult initiative.
The NTA is working closely with operators in order to achieve this shared goal as quickly as possible. However, as the Deputy will appreciate, in order to roll out the card across the commercial bus sector, time is needed to make the necessary changes to the wide array of ticketing systems employed across the network. The NTA has advised that the intensive technical work to achieve this objective is currently under way. It is hoped that the young adult card initiative will be expanded to include the commercial bus sector by the end of the summer.
Initiatives such as the young adult card and the 20% average reduction on public service obligation fares mean that 2022 looks set to be an exciting year for public transport provision throughout the country as we slowly return to pre-pandemic travels. I trust this clarifies some of the questions that the Deputy has raised.