Week’s events: Dublin bikes, Australian tourists, threatened industrial action at bus companies

27th April, 2015

Last week I marked the 1 millionth Leap card sold, which is a tremendous milestone for the NTA. This week it was the turn of the Dublin bike-share scheme, who presented Mairéad Roche with a cycling holiday to France to celebrate the 10 millionth journey on the Coca-Cola Zero dublinbikes. These landmarks demonstrate the level a growth within the public transport system and the willingness of the public to avail of schemes that make it easier and cheaper for them to leave the car at home and use more sustainable, healthier and environmentally friendly options. It was timely that this event came on the back of the publication, by the NTA, of the Canal Cordon report for Dublin in 2014. This showed that the number of cycling trips exceeded 10,000 per day for the first time ever; more than double that of 2006. While this is a fantastic result it is worth bearing in mind that the report only records the numbers actually crossing the cordon and that it doesn’t take account of the many thousands of journeys, on Dublin bikes and otherwise, that are happening in and around the city centre, which increases the numbers even further.


On the tourism front, I assisted Tourism Ireland on Monday in launching their new strategy to boost the number of tourists coming to Ireland from Australia by 20% over the next three years. As visitors from these parts tend to come for longer and spend more, is essential that we have the mechanisms in place to entice them here. The Government’s recent document ‘People, Place and Policy: Growing Tourism to 2025’ aims to welcome 10 million tourists to Ireland by that time. This strategy will pay its part in meeting that objective.


Where transport is concerned, I again urged unions at our bus companies, Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann, to call off threatened industrial action planned to begin next Friday and run for seven days across May. Our economy is still in the relatively early stages of recovery and anything that puts that at risk is to be avoided. This planned action will cause massive disruption across the country, discommode people in their attempts to go about their daily business and could ultimately costs the companies, who have just recently returned to growth, million in fines. I have repeatedly stated that the Labour Relations Commission is the forum through which discussions should take place and I will continue to push for a resolution in a bid to having the strike action averted and the parties to the dispute re-engage.


I also attended the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) Transport sectoral meeting in Armagh on Wednesday where issues of importance to both sides were discussed. These meeting offer a valuable platform through which relations north and south can be deepened and initiatives and that are mutually beneficial to people on both sides of the border can be advanced.


I welcomed the announcement of two new primary care centres that are to be developed in the Dublin Central; one in Grangegorman and the other in Summerhill. This supports the Government’s objective of ensuring that people are given the best care as close to home as possible. These developments are being facilitated by a €70 million loan from the European Investment Bank, which represents as much as half of the funds needed to deliver primary care centres at 14 locations throughout Ireland.


I continued the passage of the Roads Bill 2014, which deals with the merging of the NTA and the RPA, through the Seanad this week. The Bill is scheduled to go back for Report and Final stages next week and when passed will contribute to the Government’s plan to implement 48 agency rationalisation and reform measures under an Agency Rationalisation Programme. This will have the net effect of saving the taxpayer money and delivering better and more streamlined services, which is in all of our interests.