Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Public Service Vehicles
1042. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason a registered hackney carrying passengers as a public service vehicle cannot use bus lanes particularly in the case of hospital appointments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2844/20]
1043. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to amend legislation to allow hackneys as a public service vehicle for hire use bus lanes in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2845/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 1042 and 1043 together.
The starting point for considering access to bus lanes is that they were created - at some expense to the public - to provide on-street priority for bus-based public transport. Their goal is to make bus transport faster and more reliable, thereby encouraging more people to switch from private cars to public transport. This will achieve the twin goals of reducing congestion and reducing pollution.
In addition to buses, bus lanes may also be used by cyclists who, as vulnerable road users, are safer in bus lanes than in general traffic. The lanes may also, of course, be used by the emergency services. Finally, after the lanes were originally introduced it was decided to allow taxis to use them. This was a concession based on the fact that taxis are a form of public transport available for on-street hire.
Since bus lanes were first introduced, there have been many requests to allow other classes of traffic to use the lanes. These have included requests on behalf of motorcyclists, multi-occupancy vehicles, electric vehicles, hired limousines, hackneys, and animal ambulances, among others. My predecessors and I have always rejected these requests. Any addition to the categories of vehicle permitted to use the lanes would inevitably reduce their efficiency for performing their original purpose of prioritising bus-based public transport as well as making them less safe and available for cyclists.