Written answers

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Public Transport

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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156. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps that he is taking to ensure public transport is a viable alternative to travelling by private car in counties Longford and Westmeath. [32811/22]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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The National Sustainable Mobility Policy, which I published in April, sets out a strategic framework to 2030 for active travel and public transport. The aim of the policy is to make it easier for people across the country to choose walking, cycling and use public transport daily instead of having to travel by private car. The policy is accompanied by an action plan to 2025 which contains actions to improve and expand sustainable mobility options throughout the country. 

One of the policy’s ten high-level goals is to expand availability of sustainable mobility in regional and rural areas and the action plan contains a range of actions that will be delivered by 2025 to support this goal. This includes the rollout of the Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan. Starting this year, this plan is a major national public transport initiative funded by my Department and managed by the National Transport Authority (NTA). It aims to increase public transport connectivity over a five-year period, particularly for people living outside our cities. New and improved public transport services will be rolled out on a phased basis including new and enhanced services in Longford and Westmeath. The overarching aim of Connecting Ireland is to develop an accessible, integrated and sustainable network of public transport services in rural and regional areas nationwide. In Budget 2022, I was delighted to secure an allocation of €5.6 million to progress, develop and begin delivery of this important plan.

A programme of improved town bus services will also be implemented by 2025 under the Sustainable Mobility Policy, including in Mullingar. Alongside this, the NTA will commence delivery of an enhanced bus stop and bus shelter programme for regional and rural services.

The Government has also recently introduced a number of new fare reductions to help combat the rising cost-of-living being experienced throughout the country and to incentivise greater use of public transport services.  This includes a 20% average fare reduction on all PSO services until the end of 2022.  Furthermore, the introduction of a young adult card will allow any person nationwide who is between 19 and 23 years old to avail of an entitlement for discounted travel costs across all services, including city, intercity and rural services.  This young adult discount was initially made available on PSO services last month and will then be broadened to include commercial operators at a later date.

The National Sustainable Mobility Policy will be implemented in collaboration with other Government departments, the NTA, regional assemblies, local authorities and other stakeholders to improve sustainable mobility infrastructure and services across the country in the coming years.

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