Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, has called for more to be done to assist the haulage, logistics, bus and coach sectors; who are facing unprecedented challenges due to rising fuel costs.
The Meath East TD said;
“Today, at the Oireachtas Transport Committee, we heard first-hand the severe impact rising fuel costs are having on the bus and haulage sectors.
“Bus operators and hauliers are facing unprecedented challenges and are calling on the Minister for Transport to do more to assist their industries.
“Sinn Féin have previously highlighted that the Diesel Rebate Scheme needs to be reformed, and we heard this again from hauliers today. Less than one third of qualifying operators use the scheme, with the complex and cumbersome nature of it preventing many from using it.
“Compressed Natural Gas, that hauliers are rightly encouraged to move to as a greener alternative to reduce carbon emissions, is currently more expensive than diesel but, incredibly, it is excluded from the rebate scheme.
“While lorries with operator licences are eligible to receive a €100 weekly payment per vehicle, many are excluded. Coach and school bus operators, for example, have been inexplicitly excluded from this scheme, despite facing the exact same challenge. This needs to be rectified.
“Coach and school bus operators have warned they will be forced to park up their vehicles if support isn’t provided soon.
“Due to rising costs at the forecourts, motorists are now spending €700 more per year on fuel compared to two years ago.
“This is having a huge impact on workers and families and is particularly acute in rural Ireland, where the AA highlights 83% of journeys are made by car in thinly populated areas. As a result, people simply cannot avoid these crippling costs.
“While the transition to EVs will help address these costs; this transition is only happening for a select few.
“Those with the financial means to purchase a brand-new car are provided with state support of €10,000 in grants and VRT relief, while the majority of people who are unable to afford a new car are penalised further with higher taxes.
“We have called for this system to be reformed, and have proposed the introduction of higher grants for those on lower incomes, in addition to a second hand EV grant.
“Minister Eamon Ryan cannot bury his head in the sand and ignore the massive challenge the entire transport sector is facing. Action is needed now.”