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Transport
21 September 2021
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport the status of the development in conjunction with the NTA of a new DART station at Woodbrook, Shankill, County Dublin.

Response

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including, in consultation with Iarnród Éireann, the planning and development of rail infrastructure such as the proposed station referred to by the Deputy.

NTA Response

PQ 157 of 21 September 2021

16 SEPTEMBER 2021
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport the status of the work being carried out in relation to the issuing of driver licences to applicants for international protection, that is, asylum seekers which is currently not permitted; the timeline for introduction of legislation to the Houses of the Oireachtas as committed to in the Government White Paper to end Direct Provision.

Response

As set out in the Programme for Government, the Government will act on interim recommendations from the Chair of the Expert Group on the Provision of Support, including Accommodation, to Persons in the International Protection Process (Asylum Seekers) to improve conditions for asylum seekers currently living in the system. This includes the ability to apply for driver licences.

To provide for the change in policy, there are a number of complex legal, administrative and technical issues to consider and resolve. While the legislative requirements are being examined, work is continuing on the administrative and technical solutions needed in conjunction with the Road Safety Authority and the Department of Justice.

16 September 2021
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport the position regarding and status of the initial introduction of phase one of BusConnects.

Response

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106, 119 and 127 together.

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.  The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including BusConnects.

Noting the NTA’s responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NTA for a direct reply.  Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days

NTA Response

PQ 106 of 16 September 2021

15 July 2021
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport the details of the plan to expand driver lessons to non-essential workers; the expected timeline for the plan.

Response

Road safety policy during the pandemic has depended on public health decisions taken by Government, on the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team.

There is currently no legal impediment to the provision of driving lessons, provided public health guidelines are adhered to. However, the position is that these lesson can resume where the learner in question is willing to book a class and the instructor is willing to teach it. It does not mean that instruction has to resume, or that driving instructors are obliged to teach against their will.

However, as the Deputy will be aware, approved Driving Instructors (ADIS) are entirely independent operators and neither the Road Safety Authority nor the Department can dictate how they run their individual businesses. It is up to each driving instructor or driving school to make the appropriate choices to protect themselves and their families.

3 June 2021
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport if he will consider extending learner permits that are due to expire taking into consideration that there is a huge backlog of driver tests.

Response

An extension to the validity of learner permits is currently being considered. I expect to announce further details on this matter soon.

25 May 2021
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport the status of work being carried out in relation to the issuing of driver licences to applicants for international protection that is, asylum seekers which is currently not permitted; the date for the implementation of policy change on this matter.

Response

As mentioned in my reply of 15 February to the Deputy, there are a number of complex legal, administrative and technical issues to consider and resolve to enable international protection applicants access to a driving licence. One of these issues is connected to the primary legislative proposal to grant the Minister for Transport the power to revoke a driving licence, and is planned for inclusion in the Road Traffic Bill 2021. The Bill is expected to be introduced to the Houses shortly. Secondary legislation changes will also be required.

Work is also continuing on the administrative and technical solutions needed. It is not possible at this time to give a definitive date as to when these changes will be in place.

24 March 2021
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport if he will report on the progress in developing a new DART station at Woodbrook, between Shankill and Bray, which is scheduled to commence in 2021.

Response

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.  The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including, in consultation with Iarnród Éireann, the planning and development of rail infrastructure such as the proposed station referred to by the Deputy.

Noting the NTA’s responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NTA for a more detailed reply.  Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

24 March 2021
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport the position for those due to renew their driver licences, in particular those over 70 years of age and those who do not have a public services card.

Response

A further extension to the expiry dates of driving licences has been introduced in response to the continued disruption caused by Covid-19 to driver licensing services in Ireland and across the EU.

The extension will apply to different groups of licence holders including those who benefited from extensions in 2020. Further information can be found on the RSA website.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has also expanded the postal renewal option to those over 70 who renew their licence every three years. Previously only those aged 70 and over who renew their licence on a yearly basis were invited to renew it by post.

The exemption that allows for those aged over 70 to apply for a driving licence without the need to provide a medical report provided they do not have an identified or specified illness has also been extended and will apply until 30 June 2021.

24 February 2021
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport if an NDLS receipt for a driver licence renewal will be acceptable in lieu of the licence, given the extensive backlog as a result of Covid-19.

Response

A receipt issued from the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) for an application received for a driving licence or learner permit is not acceptable in lieu of the permit or licence.

Due to the resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe as well as Ireland, possible further extensions of driving licences are currently under consideration at EU level. A decision on this issue is expected shortly.

17 November 2021
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport if companies that report to him such as the Irish Aviation Authority, have a compulsory retirement age of 65 years of age; if not, if they are included under the Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018.

Response

The issue raised is a matter for the agencies under the aegis of my Department. I have referred the Deputy’s question to the agencies for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

17 November 2021
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport if the Irish Aviation Authority is considered a semi-State body as it reports to his Department.

Response

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is a commercial semi-state body. It was formed under Section 11 of the Irish Aviation Authority Act, 1993 and is under my aegis.

In addition to the requirements of the Companies Act, 2014 the IAA is required under sections 30 and 31 of the Act of 93 to submit accounts and a report annually to me as Minister. Those accounts and the report are laid before the Houses of the Oireacthas. Section 31 provides that the IAA shall furnish any information that I require  in respect of company or any subsidiaries.

Furthermore, the IAA is subject to the reporting requirements of the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies (2016).

13 October 2021
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport his plans to address illegal parking of cars on pavements and cycle lanes.

Response

Parking on a footpath and parking in a designated cycle lane are both illegal under the current Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking Regulations), as amended, and carry a fixed charge of €40, rising to €60 if not paid within 28 days.

Section 41 of the Road Traffic Act 2010 grants powers to the Minister for Transport to make regulations prescribing different amounts for fixed charge notice offences. The Department keeps these charges under constant review and can intervene to impose increases where it is deemed appropriate.

Most recently, for example, in March 2018 my predecessor, Mr. Shane Ross T.D., increased the fixed charge for the offence of parking in a disabled bay from €80 to €150 in response to evidence presented by An Garda Síochána and by disability representative groups of a sharp rise in non-compliance.

While my Department is open to the possibility of introducing similar increases for other parking offences, such changes will require engagement both with An Garda Síochána and with the local authorities so as to ensure fairness and proportionality and to take into account issues of implementation and enforcement.

6 October 2021
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport the instructions or guidance being given to public transport operators regarding persons who are unable, due to a physical or mental illness, to wear a mask on public transport; if he will consider the issuance of a card for those affected in order that they are not unduly discriminated against, in view of the fact Covid-19 will be here for the medium to long term.

Response

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

The Chief Medical Officer and the HSE are responsible for the issuing of guidelines in relation to public health and the public health advices apply across all modes of public transport. Guidance on the wearing of face coverings, including on public transport, is available on the HSE website.

S.I. No. 244 of 2020 (Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (Face Coverings on Public Transport) Regulations 2020) was introduced on Friday 10 July and came into effect on Monday 13 July. The National Transport Authority (NTA) is engaging with public transport operators regarding implementation of the Regulations.

I have therefore forwarded the Deputy’s question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

NTA Response

PQ 241 of 6 October 2020

30 September 2020
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport if persons over 70 years of age will be allowed to renew their driver licences online, as is the case for persons under 70 years of age, in view of the advice to over-70s to limit their social contacts.

Response

As part of the measures put forward to cater for issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, regulations were introduced to provide for the removal of the requirement for persons over 70 years of age, who do not have an identified or specified illness, to provide a medical report when applying for or renewing a driving licence beginning on the 20 March and ending on 31 December 2020. Those who are over 70 and who are renewing a one year licence, can do so by post. Further information on the process can be had by emailing [email protected]

The current driving licence online application system does not facilitate the uploading of supporting documentation, so although the medical report requirement has been removed, the online system has not yet been amended to accommodate this change.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is continuing work to expand the online facility to accommodate all driving licence and learner permit application types, and in a manner that does not undermine the existing legal framework or the effective operations of the stakeholders involved. The Department and the Office of Parliamentary Counsel are working on the necessary regulatory changes.

For those caling to centres, the NDLS centres have been assessed and measures have been put in place to align with the Government’s Return to Work Safely Protocols.  Appropriate signage, sanitation and handwashing, and social distancing measures such as reduced seating in waiting areas and customer touchpoint cleansing, have been introduced. Customers will be accompanied into and out of centres and will be required to adhere to necessary health and safety guidelines.

15 September 2020
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport his plans to increase the provision of public transport services on routes that are frequently used by school children in addition to teachers and staff commuting to schools in view of the fact that the capacity of public transport has decreased due to Covid-19 and carpooling is not possible.

Response

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

Continued operation of the public transport sector is important, and it has been designated among the essential services that have carried on during the Covid crisis. I would like to thank both public and commercial operators and their staff for their continued dedication to providing this vital service in such challenging times. A number of measures have been introduced across the system, guided by public health advice, to ensure the continued operation of services during the pandemic, including enhanced cleaning regimes and social distancing measures across the network.

Over the course of the COVID-19 crisis, my Department has been working closely with the National Transport Authority (NTA) to ensure public transport services continue and to plan for the provision of enhanced public transport services in line with the Government Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business. In this context, the NTA is engaging directly with both PSO and commercial transport operators.  

With the commencement of Phase 3 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business on 29 June 2020, changes to the existing public transport social distancing restrictions were agreed, allowing a move from 2 metres social distancing to utilising 50% of the passenger-carrying capacity of fleet. This will help to underpin public transport services during these unprecedented times, with a view to safeguarding public transport capacity.  Alongside this change, it was also decided that the wearing of a face covering when using public transport would be made mandatory.  The Regulations for the mandatory wearing of face coverings on public transport were introduced under Health legislation on 10 July and came into effect on Monday 13 July.  Public health advice tells us that face coverings are an important safety measure, especially in interior spaces, but that they are not suitable for every individual, particularly those who cannot do so for health reasons or due to young age.

Further, there is continued strong messaging that public transport capacity remains restricted and therefore should only be used for essential travel, with only those who absolutely have to travel at peak times doing so and encouraging staggered retail and office opening hours.  People are being encouraged to walk or cycle where practical, and organisations are encouraged to continue to facilitate working from home.

As part of new restrictions announced by Government on the 18th August, people have been asked to avoid public transport where possible.  This advice along with other measures (such as continuing to work from home where possible) is aimed at suppressing the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland.  The advice is also aimed at ensuring public transport is safeguarded for those who need it most, including frontline workers and students.

The new measures were introduced following recommendations made to Government by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). Both my Department and the NTA are closely monitoring public transport demand and will continue to be guided by public health advice.

13 May 2020
Question

To ask the Minister for Transport the estimated cost of introducing an hourly train between Belfast and Dublin.

Response

As the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.

The issue raised is an operational matter for Iarnród Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy’s question to the company for direct reply.

Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

NTA Response

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill TD – PQ4903-20 – Hourley Service Cost Belfast – 26.05.20