Thursday, 18 February 2021
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
78. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a commitment made two years ago to provide a public bus service for Carlow will be delivered on; the estimated costs involved; the reason the service has not been delivered to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9238/21]
As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public passenger transport services in particular areas, and for the allocation of associated funding to the relevant transport operators.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for Government commits to the introduction of new services, including new town services, in order to improve public transport connectivity. The NTA is working on initiatives to improve connectivity through rural areas and in towns, and I intend to pursue additional funding for such services in the context of our Programme for Government commitment.
The Deputy will be conscious that, at the present time, the Government has had to hugely increase its funding in order to continue to support existing transport services during the Covid-19 health emergency. Public transport’s designation as an essential service throughout the pandemic means, that although fare revenues have collapsed with the reduced passenger numbers, most of the cost of operations remains and must continue to be met in order to fulfil Government’s broader policy objectives. For 2021 over €670m has been allocated to enable continuation of the existing level of public transport services. By comparison, the level of PSO and Local Link funding in 2019 was in the region of €300m.
The Programme for Government commits to a transformation of transport in this country, and I look forward to stepping up the availability of public transport services across the country over the course of this Government.