Budget 2017: Public transport to get extra €31m investment boost
Passengers to benefit from range of improvements to road and rail projects
Minister for Trasport Shane Ross says, “My department’s allocation of €344 million for public transport investment will also ensure completion of the Luas cross-city project, which is the most significant capital project in public transport since the original Luas Red and Green lines opened.”
Commuters are set to benefit from an increase in spending on public transport next year.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross pledged an increase of €31 million in funding for bus and rail services would be allocated to high-profile projects.
Mr Ross said he expected the extra money to go to developments such as extending the Kildare line commuter rail services through the Phoenix Park tunnel and boosting frequencies on Dart light rail services to 10-minute intervals.
“My department’s allocation of €344 million for public transport investment will also ensure completion of the Luas cross-city project, which is the most significant capital project in public transport since the original Luas Red and Green lines opened,” he said.
The Minister said the project in central Dublin was on-time and within budget. Passenger services are due to begin on the line before the end of next year.
The increased funds mean cash will be available for the ongoing maintenance programme on the Republic’s rail network. Bus Éireann will receive 70 new buses and Dublin Bus will get 110.
Mr Ross stressed none of the €31 million would be used to cover the cost of the recent pay deal with Dublin Bus workers or to support the State-owned Expressway service, whose business is suffering in the face of increased competition.
“The extra €31 million has got a lot of places to go, but it was never anyone’s intention that it would subvent wage claims,” he said.
Mr Ross pointed out that the National Transport Authority would ultimately decide which companies would benefit from the extra cash, but stressed that would not include providing extra support for Expressway.
Metro North, the proposed underground link between Dublin city centre and the airport, remains part of the Government’s €47 billion capital spending plan announced last year. The development could cost €2.4 billion.
The department said the figure would be double-checked in a review of the overall spending programme the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, announced in his budget speech.
A regional and local roads allocation of €275 million is intended to ensure funding for projects such as the Gort-to-Tuam route in Co Galway, Gorey to Enniscorthy and the New Ross bypass in Co Wexford.
The Government intends spending €122 million on tourism next year, €1 million of which will be ringfenced to tackle the impact of the Brexit vote on the Irish industry.
However, the Minister for Tourism, Patrick O’Donovan, warned that industry players themselves would have to ensure they remained competitive in order to continue attracting holidaymakers from Britain.
Sterling’s weakness means that holidaying in the Republic has become more expensive for UK visitors, who account for 40 per cent of tourists. Mr O’Donovan said that industry players knew they could not repeat the mistakes of the last decade, when price increases hit tourism’s competitiveness.
In a statement, he noted that strong exchequer funding for the sector was essential to achieve sustainable growth into the future.
“The development and sustainability of Irish tourism will be further supported by funding targeted at growing high-yielding events and business tourism, including supporting preparations for Ireland’s bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, ” he said.
The Government is providing €12 million to regional airports at Donegal, Kerry, Knock and Waterford to boost security and safety. It will also provide €1 million in aid to repair the Shannon Estuary embankment, which protects Shannon Airport and was damaged by floods in 2014.