Written answers

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Jackie CahillJackie Cahill (Tipperary, Fianna Fail)
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178. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the public service obligation financial supports for private bus operators on public service obligation routes can be extended beyond the end of December 2021 considering the financial pressures being placed on these operators as a result of reduced numbers of persons travelling due to heightened Covid-19 case numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [58371/21]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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Both the National Transport Authority (NTA) and my Department have been engaging directly with commercial bus operators throughout the Covid-19 Emergency. The public transport system in Ireland has played an essential service role over the course of the pandemic, especially in carrying essential workers and others making necessary journeys.

As you are aware, in June 2020, the Government decided to introduce new, temporary financial support for certain licensed services provided by commercial bus operators to ensure the continued operation of these essential services. The temporary support was initially introduced for a period of 6-months, with a view to protecting capacity across the public transport sector throughout the crisis. The NTA on behalf of my Department, entered into contracts with the licensed bus sector to provide funding for routes where a clear public interest justification supports such intervention.

Owing to the continued fall in passenger numbers and associated drop in fare revenue as a result of Covid-19, on 26 January 2021, Government decided to extend the temporary funding supports for the licensed bus sector for a further period of 3 months, with an option to extend contracts on a monthly basis thereafter.

The NTA are currently carrying out a review of the supports to the licensed bus sector which I expect to receive shortly. No decision has been taken in relation to a potential continuation of these supports.


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