Transport spending: Town and local bus services are the priority, says Eamon Ryan

Ports must take ‘leap of faith’ to invest for wind farm deployment, Minister tells committee

The priority for the €3.5 billion spending by the Department of Transport this year is the development of local link and town bus services, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said.

In a discussion of the estimates for his department for 2023, Mr Ryan also said enhanced port development, designed to take advantage of a multibillion investment in the offshore wind farm sector, requires a “leap of faith” by the ports but has to be delivered.

Addressing the Oireachtas committee on transport on department spending plans on Wednesday, Mr Ryan told Darren O’Rourke TD (SF Meath East) local link and town bus services represent the number one priority.

“It is closing the gap where there is nothing in many instances,” he said. “Yes we should be faster but we are opening new bus services week in, week out.”


The Minister said next week the National Transport Authority would present new routes that will open. “This should be the number one priority and it is,” he said.

My Ryan said although road building would continue, the coming two years would see a shift in funding of two-to-one in favour of active travel and public transport.

He revealed just €240.009 million of €1.387 billion earmarked for roads and road safety has been allocated to the construction of new national roads this year. Some €70 million will be spent on new regional and local road improvement schemes.

Road schemes include the ongoing Dunkettle Interchange in Cork City, the N5 Westport-to-Turlough route in Co Mayo, the Listowel bypass in Co Kerry and N59 Moycullen bypass in Co Galway. Projects with planning approval that will continue to progress towards construction phase include the N28 Cork-to-Ringaskiddy road and the retendered N5 Ballaghdereen-to-Scramogue scheme in Co Roscommon.

The Minister told TDs and Senators €358 million would be invested this year in “active travel” including the Safe Routes to School scheme on which the Department of Transport was working with local authorities to design and implement changes that would make it more attractive for people to chose active or public transport over the private car.

“Tactical interventions in urban areas at low cost to deliver quick active travel wins,” he said.

Mr Ryan said big ongoing active travel projects included the Clontarf-to-Amiens Street route in Dublin and the McCurtain street scheme in Cork. “My intention is that these demonstrator projects will pave the way for more widespread behavioural change in how we engage with transport as a society,” he said.

Mr Ryan said from this year Government supports to encourage people to move to electric vehicles would switch from grants for private vehicles to investing in public EV charging infrastructure,

He said BusConnects “spines” would continue to roll out with the planned introduction of South Dublin City orbital routes while planning would continue on BusConnects for regional cities.

Overall, €876.504 million has been allocated to public transport including the balance of the order of 41 Intercity Railcars that will increase capacity on the intercity network.

Construction will also continue on the National Train Control Centre, and tenders will be issued for the redevelopment of Ceannt station in Cork. The Cork Commuter Rail project, part-funded through the EU’s National Recovery and Resilience Programme, will also be progressed, he said.

A total of €15 million is to be invested in rail and public transport accessibility projects.

Mr Ryan said although ports are not directly funded by the exchequer “offshore renewable energy should be supported strategically, given its potential for addressing future energy requirements, decarbonisation, security of supply, and job creation in emerging industries of the future”.

He said the demands of the offshore industry included quays with a water depth of at least 11 metres and length of between 400 and 500 metres.

Although this investment would have to be made before the ports were awarded contracts to facilitate the deployment of turbines, blades and towers, it was “a leap of faith” that the port companies would have to make.

Questioned by TDs and Senators on the possibility of this work going to ports such as Hamburg, Mr Ryan said Irish port infrastructure “will be delivered. It has to be”.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist