Written answers

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

National Car Test

Photo of Darren O'RourkeDarren O'Rourke (Meath East, Sinn Fein)
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177. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the average and median waiting times in each NCT centre, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2505/23]

Photo of Holly CairnsHolly Cairns (Cork South West, Social Democrats)
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201. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps he is taking to improve the recruitment and retention of staff in NCT centres. [2687/23]

Photo of Jack ChambersJack Chambers (Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 177 and 201 together.

The operation of the National Car Testing Service is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority. I have therefore referred the Deputy's query to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten days.

As Minister of State for Transport, I do not have a role in operational matters, including the appointment of personnel by the NCTS or the conditions of their employment in that capacity.

However, both I and my colleague Minister Ryan are very cognisant of the difficulties motorists are experiencing when trying to secure test appointments and that this is causing immense worry and frustration.

My officials are continuing weekly meetings with the RSA to monitor the ongoing work to reduce test delays and ensure all possible actions are being taken to bring the waitlist to an acceptable level in 2023.

My department has facilitated any appropriate requests made to it as regards improvements, for example, at the RSA’s request, the Department engaged with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to secure approval for recruitment of inspectors from outside the EU/EEA.

Strong progress is being made in addressing the long-term staffing issues behind this backlog. Over 60 inspectors were recruited locally in 2022 and a further 50 vehicle inspectors started the last week of 2022, bringing the total number of vehicle inspectors to 595 by end-2022. Further recruitment is ongoing in 2023, with 7 more currently in training and an additional 15 recruits waiting to be trained.

A number of other measures to provide additional capacity at test centres are also in place, including increased staff overtime, the temporary transfer of 20 testers from the NCTS contractor’s Spanish operation for a period of 3 months (8 of whom who will continue for a further 12 months) and the forthcoming pilot for additional inspection personnel to assist vehicle inspectors with automated elements of the test. Testers are being assigned to the test centres with the most significant delays.

The RSA and NCTS have set a target to return the average waiting list to 12 days, per the service level agreement. My department will continue to monitor progress towards that goal in the coming months I am confident that we will soon see the positive impacts of the changes that have been made.

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