Thursday, 3 March 2022
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
22. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the engagement that he has had with the Minister for Finance on measures that could be implemented to assist persons who cannot avail of public transport for work with driving as their only option given the rising costs of living; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12077/22]
My goal as Minister of Transport is to increase the number of sustainable mobility options available to all citizens. Where possible I am incentivizing public transport use through investment in new services and infrastructure as well as reducing fare structures. In recognition that it is not always possible to provide public transport, particularly in remote areas, I also have a complementary suite of incentives to electrify private transport such as the EV purchase grant and the domestic charger grant scheme. I am also strongly committed to funding active travel infrastructure to provide more walking and cycling facilities to increase peoples green travel options.
The Government is strongly committed to helping combat the rising cost-of-living being experienced throughout the country. In this context, a suite of new measures is being introduced by Government to help with this issue, including a 20% average fare reduction on PSO services until the end of 2022. These discounted fares will benefit the hundreds of thousands of people across the country who use public transport every day. A further €54m in Exchequer funding has been secured to allow for the introduction of these discounted fares, this is in addition to the REV22 allocations. The NTA will work with the PSO public transport operators in the coming weeks to commence rolling out these fare reductions across the public transport network in late April/ early May.
Also, in recognition of the importance of incentivising young people to use public transport, as part of Budget 2022 I secured €25m of funding to provide for the introduction of a young adult card (YAC) which will allow any person nationwide who is between 19 and 23 years old, to avail of an entitlement for discounted travel costs, and to increase the level of discount over and above the current student discount to an average of discount of 50% across all services, including city, intercity and rural services. It is envisaged that the discount will initially be made available on PSO services, and then broadened to include commercial operators at a later date. This will not only promote modal shift in the transport sector among this age group but should also contribute towards a reduced reliance on private transport with associated benefit of transport emission savings. The NTA has commenced work in relation to the implementation of the new fares’ structures for young adults, and this includes the application process and establishing a definitive timeline for the introduction of the Scheme.
A new 90-minute fare has also been introduced by the NTA to coincide with Phase 2 of BusConnects which gives customers the option to transfer between Dublin Bus, Luas and most DART, commuter rail and Go-Ahead Ireland services in Dublin at no additional fare.
In addition, the Deputy will be pleased to hear that the new Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan will significantly benefit those living in rural Ireland. Starting this year, this plan is a major national public transport initiative funded by my Department and managed by the National Transport Authority. The aim of this plan is to increase public transport connectivity over a five-year period, particularly for people living outside the major cities and towns. That means that by 2025, Ireland will see a 25% overall increase in rural bus services. Over 100 rural towns and villages will benefit from frequent public transport services for the first time ever. To ensure timely rollout, I have secured €5.6 million in Budget 2022 to support the NTA in planning and implementing these services.
The NTA are currently analysing the feedback received from the public consultation and will issue a report once this process is finalised. They are also in the process of finalising the proposals, with arollout of new and improved services planned on a phased basis starting this year to 2025. I believe that Connecting Ireland will greatly improve the mobility options for many currently unable to avail of public transport services.