Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, has called on Minister Eamon Ryan and the NTA to accelerate the delivery of the ‘Connecting Ireland‘ rural bus plan.
Teachta O’Rourke’s comments come as figures released to him by the NTA show just €3.88m was invested in new rural bus services last year, failing to meet the government’s own meagre target of €5.6m.
The figures were confirmed at today’s Oireachtas Transport Committee where revised estimates for the Department of Transport were discussed.
Minister Ryan further confirmed that just €8.35m is allocated for new Connecting Ireland services in 2023.
Speaking in response, Teachta O’Rourke said:
“Expanding public transport options in rural Ireland is key to reducing transport emissions and sustaining rural communities.
“The Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan aims to address decades of inaction in this area, by establishing new bus routes across Ireland.
“It is a welcome plan which has broad political support, but unfortunately, the funding and rollout of it is far too slow.
“Figures released to me by the NTA show that last year just €3.88m was invested in this plan in 2022, failing to even meet the government’s own meagre target of €5.6m.
“There is no excuse for this. €5.6m was a very low target to begin with, so failing to meet this target is really worrying.
“To make matters worse, the Minister confirmed at today’s Revised Estimates meeting that just €8.35m has been allocated for new services in 2023.
“Connecting Ireland was announced in 2021 as a 5 year, €56m plan. It is clear that the Government are set to miss this, yet another, target.
“Emissions continue to rise, but we see no urgency from this government in accelerating key transport initiatives, like Connecting Ireland, that can help reverse this trend.
“Once again, the Government’s rhetoric on climate is not matched by action.
“Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget, in contrast, provided for €25m investment in Connecting Ireland in 2023, accelerating the delivery of new routes, in a quicker timeframe and helping to drive down emissions.
“Minister Ryan and the NTA need to accelerate the timeline for Connecting Ireland and allocate more funding to expand rural bus services faster.”