NCT test delays to be eased with extra resources, Ryan informed

Transport document notes new bus routes will prioritise remote rural areas with Ukrainian refugees

An EU-wide shortage of qualified mechanics is creating “extraordinary pressure” for the National Car Test (NCT) service while a “driver availability” issue is hampering plans for the redesign of the Dublin bus network, according to a briefing document prepared for Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan.

The document, drafted in December and published on Tuesday, outlines how the department is continuing to progress three public transport “megaprojects” – BusConnects, Dart+ and MetroLink – and states that “assuming timely planning approval from An Bord Pleanála” as well as other matters, construction work on the MetroLink could start in late 2025 and it could begin operating in the early 2030s.

The document notes backlogs in the NCT system have been receiving “prolonged media and political scrutiny” since the start of last year.

“The contractor is providing additional vehicle inspectors from its Spanish operation,” the report notes, while the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has approved a pilot scheme to use additional inspection staff for automated test elements, and non-EU testers are receiving training.


There will be no reduction in the quality of the tests being carried out, according to the report, and the department has received assurances from the RSA that the appointment of additional resources will not result in the loss of any existing jobs.

Investment in public transport, which was €524 million in 2020, is expected to grow to €851 million this year, while from 2021 to 2025 it is envisaged that the equivalent of 20 per cent of the 2020 transport capital budget – approximately €360 million annually – will be invested in walking and cycling infrastructure on a whole-of-government basis, according to the report.

Hundreds of villages and rural areas are to be connected to the national bus network as part of a five-year Connecting Ireland plan. Priority is being given to areas where “the population and transport demands have increased due to the requirement to house Ukrainian refugees in rural locations”.

In order to achieve the “ambitious levels of emissions reduction required in transport”, base demand is among the matters that have to be addressed, according to the report.

A National Demand Management Strategy, to be developed this year, will consider a broad range of measures and their sequencing and timing, with the measures mentioned in the report including the removal of free workplace parking, increased parking charges, congestion and road-user charges, and increased fossil fuel prices.

On aviation, the report notes that the pandemic caused airline passenger numbers to plummet globally but that a recent projection by Eurocontrol envisaged Irish passenger numbers returning to 2019 levels in 2023 and throughout Europe the following year. “Recovery is ongoing, and at a pace that surpassed initial predictions,” according to the report.

“While aviation’s contribution to economic development has long been acknowledged and the importance of connectivity for an island nation is well-understood, the imperative to act to reduce our emissions across all sectors is also fully recognised,” the report said.

On the introduction of a tax on aviation fuels, the report says “progress continues to be very slow at EU level with varying views between member states.”

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent