A medium term investment strategy for public transport has been set out by Government in National Development Plan (1999). This sets out a three-pronged investment programme designed to:
- revitalise the railways;
- transform the public transport system in the Greater Dublin Area; and
- develop our regional public transport system, especially in the cities.
- About €130 million is being spent each year to improve railway safety.
- Over 500 new buses have been purchased by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann in 1999/2000, over half of them additions to the fleet.
- Nearly 50 DART and suburban railcars have been acquired and a further 70 are on order.
Government has also turned its attention to the institutional and regulatory restructuring of public transport to develop the right structures to deliver infrastructural investment on time and on budget and to improve the quality and availability of services.
The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure Development and Public Partnerships has embarked on a major programme of policy development, comprising four principal elements:
- It considered proposals for a new institutional framework for public transport last April.
- In May it discussed proposals for a new regulatory framework for the bus market in the Greater Dublin Area.
- Later this year it will consider proposals for a new regulatory framework for the bus market outside Dublin.
In recent years there have been significant advances:
- The Enterprise service to Belfast shows what a modern European - style rail service can look like.
- The Quality Bus Corridors, especially Stillorgan, have shown that the bus network can attract substantial additional peak hour passengers.
- Bus Éireann has expanded its commuter services into Dublin very substantially and continues to provide a high quality Expressway service in competition with private operators.
The overall objectives of the Government’s public transport policy will be:
- to ensure the provision of a well functioning, integrated public transport system which enhances competitiveness, sustains economic progress and contributes to social cohesion;
- to ensure the provision of a defined standard of public transport, at reasonable cost to the consumer and the taxpayer;
- to ensure the timely and cost effective delivery of the accelerated investment in infrastructure and facilities necessary to ensure improved public transport provision.
The role of the State in the delivery of these objectives will be:
- to determine the amount, timing and broad allocation of State financial support for public transport;
- to provide a clear, but broadly based, definition of an appropriate standard of public transport provision;
- to put in place the necessary institutional and administrative arrangements to procure, but not necessarily directly provide, the defined standard of public transport provision;
- to implement the necessary legislative and regulatory measures;
- to provide, or procure the provision through public private partnerships or otherwise, of the necessary financial resources.