Deputy Broughan consistently asks Parliamentary Questions to both the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, on road safety legislation and the implementation of that legislation. Sometimes, in the cases of questions to Justice, Deputy Broughan can be waiting for years for replies. When Deputy Broughan asked both Ministers about the number of drivers disqualified in court each year in the years 2016, 2017 and to date in 2018 he was very surprised to see that the Department of Justice and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) both provided different figures in their replies.
Bus Connects is the National Transport Authority’s (NTA) plan for public transport in the Dublin region designed by consultant Jarrett Walker. Some aspects of BusConnects would be welcome additions to our transport system. Traffic congestion is an ongoing issue in North Dublin and delays to public transport are a constant source of frustration to commuters. And as such, many constituents do not choose to use public transport and drive instead. BusConnects plans to increase reliability and build out 16 core bus corridors to form a continuous bus lane in each direction are therefore laudable aims. In theory, it should be easier and quicker to travel by bus. Any removal of the current delays is welcome and more punctual and reliable transport is needed.
But the proposed interchanges or breaking of journeys on long established routes direct to Dublin City Centre poses insuperable problems for many of my constituents. The proposal includes significant changes to or termination of routes in Dublin Bay North which will very negatively impact my constituents and effectively leave them without a bus service. I outline below the major problems with the Bus Connects proposal (including the proposed interchanges) and also note some positive aspects of BusConnects.
Following Deputy Broughan’s recent Parliamentary Questions to the Ministers for Transport, Tourism and Sport and Justice and Equality on the dangerous use of scramblers, quad bikes and other off-road vehicles, he today received a reply from the HSE on the number of people admitted to hospitals because of injuries sustained with these types of vehicles. The reply confirms that under the diagnosis “Occupant of special all-terrain or other motor vehicle designed primarily for off-road use, injured in transport accident’ the figures were 56 people in 2015, 71 people in 2016 and 62 people in 2017.
BusConnects plans to increase reliability and build out 16 core bus corridors to form a continuous bus lane in each direction. In principle, it is a laudable aim but the proposed interchanges or breaking of journeys on long-established routes direct to Dublin city centre pose insuperable problems for many of my constituents. I met the deputy chief executive of the NTA, Mr. Hugh Creegan, in this House. Many people also ask whether the NTA is putting the cart before the horse. If it was serious about this plan, why did it not move on the core routes first and build them out – it will only start that consultation next month – rather than causing the extreme anxiety it has caused across Dublin Bay North?
Earlier this week, ‘Bus Connects’ National Transport Authority (NTA), announced a proposed new bus network for the Dublin area. There has been much media fanfare about the new proposals but no decisions have been made yet. A public consultation on the report will be taking place from the 16th of July until the 14th of September 2018. There are to be a number of information events around the region and people are also encouraged to make their thoughts known. You can take part in the consultation via an online survey or send in a written submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Bus Connects website says that there will be more details on its website in coming weeks.
I have always believed in indicative planning. From the time of T.K. Whitaker in the 1950s and the years of Seán Lemass, having objectives for a nation is important even if some or many of those objectives are not achieved, as happened with the last plan from 2002. The scale of Ireland’s infrastructure deficit is vast. There was no reference by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, to their roles in Ireland’s lost decade, when Ireland did not have a plan and when we cut back on the infrastructure we had.
As the Donegal and cycling communities mourn the first tragic loss of a cyclist’s life on our roads in 2018, Deputy Broughan received a reply to a Parliamentary Question which confirmed that 1,350 pedal cyclists attended hospital in 2015 due to being injured in a “transport accident” and 1,339 in 2016. 15 pedal cyclists lost their lives on our roads during 2017 and recently advocates for cycling have been calling for increased safety measures for these vulnerable road users.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak on budget 2018. In my own pre-budget submission, which I sent to the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, last week, I highlighted the need for investment, in particular in housing, public infrastructure and necessary public spending. Indeed, recent opinion polls confirmed that the majority of the electorate wanted to see that kind of investment rather than have an extra €4 or €5 in their pockets. While there are a few small improvements in areas like housing, health and education in the Minister’s first budget, my overall first impression is one of deep disappointment and a sense of huge missed opportunities by the so-called Government of opportunity.
The Minister’s performance on this issue has been appalling and very disappointing. He is clearly a party to what will happen to public transport in the future because he is the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. He is the Minister. He seems to have forgotten that simple fact. He has been prepared to allow 100,000 people to wait morning after morning for this strike to be resolved and for 2,600 workers to have their pay and conditions slashed by 30% or more with threats to hundreds of jobs. He has sat there doing nothing like a hurler on the ditch or like a journalist observing things rather than taking action. He is a party to this; there is no question.
Deputy Broughan was concerned to see recent reports that the transplant transport service was working under reduced capacity due to personnel issues in the Air Corps and so asked a number of Parliamentary Questions to ascertain the extent of this problem. Deputy Broughan had submitted these questions for consideration as oral PQs with the Minister for Defence but received the written replies today.