Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Tourism and Sport Robert Troy TD has warned that the Government is failing to get to grips with the severe transport challenges which the country is facing.
Deputy Troy recognised the increase in the capital budget for transport, but pointed out that Ireland remains one of the lowest net spenders on transport infrastructure in the EU.
Deputy Troy said, “The fact of the matter is that the additional funding allocated to transport infrastructure in Budget 2018 will go towards filling the huge underspend on national, regional and local roads maintenance.
“While some additional funding has been made available to finish off the Luas Cross City project, there will be little in the kitty for progressing vital public transport projects. This includes the revised Metro North project which was announced two years ago and is badly needed to help relieve congestion in Dublin.
“It’s also clear that, despite protestations to the contrary, the Dart Underground Project has been completely taken off the table by this Government. I do not see a cent of funding for the NTA to progress even a feasibility or transport appraisal study for this vital project. It’s clear the Minister prioritises parochial projects over essential national infrastructure.
“Most worryingly, Minister Ross appears to be burying his head in the sand over the crisis in the public transport system, with just a 8% increase in the budget for public transport services. This is despite the huge growth in demand for public transport by commuters and the myriad of financial difficulties facing CIE companies.
“It’s deeply disappointing that Minister Ross has decided to sit back and watch the difficulties at Irish Rail unfold without taking any corrective action. He has known about the difficulties facing the company for almost two years now and has not come forward with any plan for its financial difficulties.
“Traffic congestion is reaching historic highs, however commuters have no alternative as our buses and trains are severely over capacity with no investment on the horizon. The country sorely needs a strategic vision for transport. The lack of vision for public transport and obsession with parochial projects will give little solace to people who are spending more and more of their daily lives commuting to work.”