Written answers

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Public Transport

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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22. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he remains confident that existing or established bus and rail transport has sufficiently linked up with the newer public transport systems, with a view to giving modern, reliable public transport options in all areas throughout the country, urban and rural; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62301/21]

Photo of Hildegarde NaughtonHildegarde Naughton (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy has highlighted a very important issue which must be addressed in both rural and urban Ireland – the need to integrate and increase the capacity of our sustainable mobility services and infrastructure. Integrated and reliable transport helps us meet our climate obligations by enabling more people to switch to a sustainable option as their preferred transport mode.

As I’m sure the Deputy will agree, transport needs are not uniform across the country and tailored solutions are needed for both urban and rural areas. Active travel initiatives together with improved and expanded public transport services across the country are essential for promoting modal shift. Projects like BusConnects in cities and Connecting Ireland in rural areas will help provide viable alternatives to the private car.

BusConnects aims to support citizens’ travel needs by offering affordable, frequent and high-quality services throughout the day across the city-regions.It will overhaul the current bus system in the cities by implementing a network of ‘next generation’ bus corridors, which includes segregated cycling facilities, on the busiest routes. This will make journeys faster, predictable, and reliable.

BusConnects will also introduce a new system of ticketing known as Next Generation Ticketing and cashless payments. This will enable seamless transfers between bus services by reducing time consuming interactions with drivers and cutting boarding times. The ticketing equipment that is procured for BusConnects will be required to be capable of being used anywhere and will act as a foundation to introduce modern payment methods across all modes of public transport.

But improved public transport can’t be just about cities. The Connecting Ireland plan is a major national public transport initiative developed by the National Transport Authority (NTA) with the aim of increasing public transport connectivity, particularly for people living outside the major cities and towns. It will significantly increase both the number of routes and the frequency of existing services right across the country.

The Deputy will be pleased to learn that Connecting Ireland proposes to specifically expand the public transport network in rural areas and to increase service levels. Under Connecting Ireland, the NTA is proposing an overall increase of approximately 25% in rural bus services as part of the five year Connecting Ireland plan. It will extend public transport services into many rural villages and areas for the first time and is a hugely important initiative .

Finally, I would draw the Deputy’s attention to the Strategic Rail Reviewwhich my Department has undertaken in co-operation with the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland. It will strategically examine the rail network on the island of Ireland in relation to improving sustainable connectivity between the major cities, enhancing regional accessibility, and supporting balanced regional development.


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