Written answers

Thursday, 4 July 2024

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Bus Services

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Dublin South West, RISE)
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6. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has analysed the impact abolishing fares would have on speeding up bus journey times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28462/24]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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In order to encourage more people to use public transport, Government is investing in significant service and infrastructure improvements, as well as continuing to support the various fare initiatives.

All of these improvements do however require significant levels of funding and we need to make sure we utilise these funds in the best way possible.

The estimated total cost of providing the existing level of PSO services this year is around €1.14 billion. Research undertaken for the NTA in 2022 showed that a free public transport system, without accounting for any increased passenger demand, would require an additional €540 million in funding at a minimum. This would cost closer to €700m in 2024 prices.

That same research found that any increase in public transport demand due to free fares would largely be achieved by reductions in active travel, resulting in just a 1% reduction in car travel. It also found that motorists are more likely to switch to public transport if fuel prices increase, or parking and road usage is restricted, rather than due to free fares.

Budget 2024 is therefore focussed on continuing the fare initiatives, and improving service provision, to deliver maximum benefit for all passengers.

My department is also in the process of developing a new national demand management strategy for transport. When implemented, I expect the strategy to play a key role in unlocking the full potential of Government investment in sustainable mobility options - by prioritising these modes across the transport system. Essentially, it will support reductions in congestion to the benefit of the public transport system, helping to facilitate greater bus service efficiency and improved journey times.

I think these types of evidence informed improvements and initiatives speak to our commitment to get more people using public transport and improving journey times.

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