‘Crisis’ in transport with buses and trains ‘packed’ and congestion on roads - Labour

Party’s transport spokesman Duncan Smith claims Government failing those who want to choose sustainable transport options

A “crisis” in transport is being felt countrywide with packed buses and train carriages as well as chronic delays and congestion on roads, Labour has told the Dáil.

The party’s spokesman for transport Duncan Smith said the Government was “failing” those who want to choose sustainable transport options.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions on Thursday, Mr Smith said National Transport Authority (NTA) statistics for September of this year showed a 10 per cent growth in people using bus services, rising from 800,000 to 900,000.

The Dublin Fingal TD said the “reality” was that the Government was failing to deliver on transport infrastructure, which had also resulted in people in rural Ireland needing to have car if they wanted to go to the shops, work or even socialise as there was “no public transport option”.


“It’s deeply concerning to me that when we finally got to a stage where the plans are there to provide large, big transport infrastructure, we now hear from the NTA chief executive Anne Graham on Tuesday, increasing delays due to a huge hole in the transport infrastructure budget caused by inflation,” he said.

“For example, she said that the real value of the active travel programme has been reduced in real terms from €290 million to €190m.

“Meanwhile, exchequer figures at the end of October also show the Department of Transport had failed to spend €209m of approved capital expenditure.”

Mr Smith added the Government was “dragging its heels” on delivering the type of transport infrastructure projects needed by failing to commit enough spending. The Labour TD said projects such as Metrolink, BusConnects and a Luas for Cork would be affected if the issue was not addressed.

In response, the Minister for Finance Michael McGrath said last month’s budget had provided an overall allocation to the Department of Transport of over €3.5 billion euro to provide “vital services to the public across next year”, which represented an increase of €90m on gross expenditure levels.

Mr McGrath said reductions in public transport fares had resulted in a “very significant increase” in the number of people using these services.

“That’s a good thing because it shows that where services are provided, where the fares are reasonable, that the public will respond because they want to be able to avail of a good quality, efficient service and they do want to get away from the gridlock that we have seen and continue to see on some of our road networks,” he said.

The Fianna Fáil TD added that the Government was “fully committed” to a wide range of major public capital transport projects, saying “many of them are going through the approval process, are currently in the planning system”.

“We await the outcome of the planning system, but the Government has signalled its full commitment to the implementation of those projects because our population is growing, our economy is growing, the need is clear,” Mr McGrath said.

“We do need to invest further in public transport in Dublin and indeed around the country and the sustainable transport corridors, the BusConnects project, the major Metrolink project, the Dart projects that we have, the Government is committed to them.”

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times