Thursday, 19 January 2023
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
National Car Test
14. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the action that is being taken to standardise NCT tests nationwide in order that there is not one county failing more than another; and if any steps are being taken to resource the service given that the next available dates in many centres are in August 2023. [2024/23]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 14 and 18 together.
The operation of the National Car Testing Service is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority.
I would firstly advise that pass rates at individual test centres are an operational matter, and as Minister, I do not have any role. The RSA has confirmed to my department that the same consistent high standard of testing is being undertaken at all NCT test centres nationwide.
I am aware of the challenges that the RSA and the NCTS are currently facing to meet high demand for tests in the face of a long-term shortage of qualified staff, and the impact this had for vehicle owners. As I have highlighted on this floor earlier, my officials have held weekly meetings with the Authority for the past four months to monitor the situation and will continue to do so to support all appropriate requests from the RSA for assistance and ensure that everything possible is being done to reduce the backlog in 2023 and reinstate an average waiting period of 12 days.
Significant progress has been made to address the long-term staffing issues behind this backlog and increase capacity at test centres, including staff overtime, ongoing local recruitment, the temporary transfer of testers from the NCTS contractor’s Spanish operation and recruitment from outside the EU, with a total of 110 new testers employed in 2022. Amongst these, 44 new testers from the Philippines completed training before Christmas and have now been assigned to the test centres with the most significant delays.
I am advised that customers seeking test appointments may contact the NCTS directly, by calling 01-4135992, or may avail of the priority waiting list function via the NCT website, www.ncts.ie. In the majority of cases, these vehicle owners are provided with an appointment within 30 days.