Written answers

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Transport Policy

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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160. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the National Investment Framework for Transport will be published; the proposed purpose of the framework; the elements that will be contained in same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56720/21]

Photo of Hildegarde NaughtonHildegarde Naughton (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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The National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland (NIFTI) is the Department of Transport’s new high-level strategic framework for prioritising future investment in the land transport network. NIFTI is currently being revised following public consultation and it is expected that the final version of the framework will be brought to Government for approval and published before the end of this year.

NIFTI has been developed to ensure that sectoral investment in transport is aligned with the National Planning Framework and supports the delivery of the ten National Strategic Outcomes. Transport investment is essential to realising our spatial and climate change objectives, and it is therefore crucial that we have developed this strategy which is aligned with and supports Government’s overarching policy objectives. NIFTI sits alongside other Departmental and Government policy and strategies, such as the Climate Action Plan, National Development Plan and forthcoming Sustainable Mobility Policy.

The framework establishes four investment priorities to ensure that transport investment is aligned with these overarching policy aims, and delivered in a sustainable and proportionate manner. The four priorities are:

1. Decarbonisation;

2. Protection and Renewal;

3. Mobility of People and Goods in Urban Areas; and

4. Enhanced Regional and Rural Connectivity.

To ensure that NIFTI supports the National Planning Framework in the most sustainable and cost-effective manner possible, it establishes modal and intervention hierarchies to supplement the Investment Priorities. The modal hierarchy will ensure that the most environmentally sustainable feasible solution to a given transport need is deployed on a given project. Project sponsors will have to consider walking and cycling before public transport, and public transport before private transport. If a solution from further down the hierarchy is proposed, project sponsors will have to justify why a more environmentally sustainable solution is not suitable for the problem at hand.

Similarly, the intervention hierarchy will require project sponsors to first consider maintenance and then optimisation of existing assets. Only when these more conservative solutions have been demonstrated to be unsuitable will significant improvement of existing infrastructure or outright new infrastructure be considered.

The hierarchies are not rigid tools. Their role is to ensure that for a given transport need or problem the most appropriate solution is deployed, but investment will remain principles-based and objectives-led. Where project sponsors can demonstrate that solutions from higher on either hierarchy are infeasible solutions to meet the objectives of a given investment, it follows that solutions from further down the hierarchy will be considered.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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161. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the studies that have been carried out by his Department in developing its transport strategy on the percentage of persons that choose to commute by walking, cycling and e-scooters in cases in which there is good walking, cycling and e-scooters infrastructure; the results of such studies by distance, age, disability and weather; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56721/21]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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My Department is currently finalising a new Sustainable Mobility Policy Framework. This will set out a strategic framework for walking, cycling and public transport to support Ireland’s overall requirement to achieve a 51% reduction in carbon emissions by the end of this decade. The new framework will replace the existing sectoral policy documents from 2009 - Smarter Travel, A Sustainable Transport Future 2009-2020 and the National Cycle Policy Framework.

A collaborative approach has been taken in developing the new framework. A stakeholder engagement event was held at the end of 2019 alongside the publication of a comprehensive range of background papers for public consultation. Over 250 submissions were received as part of the public consultation process from individuals and organisations. Following a review of those submissions, a report of the public consultation was published on my Department's website and further bilateral stakeholder engagement has taken place.

Transport trends such as those identified in the Central Statistics Office's National Travel Survey (NTS) have been considered in the development of the new framework including data relating to user demographics, journeys taken, reasons for travel and chosen transport mode. The 2019 NTS also highlighted geographic variations in transport trends which shows that transport needs are not uniform across the country and tailored solutions will be needed for both urban and rural areas.

I hope to publish the Sustainable Mobility Policy Framework shortly. It will set out a comprehensive set of actions to increase active travel provision and improve public transport capacity and services across the country in order to make sustainable modes the preferred choice for as many people as possible. It is also important to consider the role that newer forms of mobility such as e-scooters can play in reducing reliance on the private car. The Road Traffic and Roads Bill 2021, which is currently at Second Stage in this House, contains measure to give the Minister the power to make regulations to legalise the use of e-scooters on public roads. The regulations will determine conditions for their use and technical standards.


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