Dáil Éireann - Volume 630 - 31 January, 2007
Written Answers. - Public Transport.
Mr. Kenny Mr. Kenny
Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Transport the conditions surrounding the granting of licences to private bus operators; his future plans in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3067/07]
Mr. Cullen Mr. Cullen
Mr. Cullen: The Road Transport Act, 1932, as amended, provides the legislative basis for entry to the public transport market by private bus operators. In accordance with this legislation, private operators are licensed under a passenger licence to operate scheduled public coach and bus services within  the State. All applications by private operators are considered in accordance with the Act and each application is given individual consideration. In giving consideration to an application for a licence my Department has issued guidelines in that regard.
The adequacy or otherwise of existing services and whether the proposed service is required in the public interest, as required under section 11(3)(a) of the Road Transport Act 1932, as amended, is assessed by the Department on the basis of the best evidence available to it. Applications are examined for added value to the public in terms of route/locations to be served, the timing of services and the days on which services are available. The assessment also includes a review of existing and proposed service frequency, number of services provided per day/week, duration of daily service provided. Evidence of unsatisfied demand, review of Local or County Development Plans and other relevant publications, for example, Regional Planning Guidelines, transport studies, etc., reports of on-site monitoring, representations, complaints and any case made by an applicant are also taken into account.
When considering applications for new bus services or amendments to licences for existing bus services, the Department will try to ensure, so far as possible, that the services proposed are separated in time from existing services along the route or in the neighbourhood of the route. Separation of services is considered to be in the public interest in order to ensure the availability of a good range and spread of services to the travelling public including a sufficiently frequent service to meet anticipated demand; preserve good order and safety on public roads; avoid traffic congestion, particularly in urban areas; and maximise patronage of public transport and reduce private car usage.
New legislation is currently being prepared to replace the Road Transport Act, 1932 by a modern regulatory and licensing regime in line with commitments in the Programme for Government. It is anticipated that the new legislation will address a range of issues including the introduction of a single licensing code for all bus operators. The legislation will also be designed in a manner consistent with EU law on public service obligations and State Aids and in such a way as to create new opportunities and a level playing field for private operator involvement in the bus market.
Dáil Éireann 630 Written Answers. Public Transport.