Dáil Éireann - Volume 640 - 31 October, 2007
Written Answers. - Public Transport.
Deputy Michael Kennedy Deputy Michael Kennedy
Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the 41X bus route; the date the private bus operator was granted a bus licence by his Department; the date the private service will operate its service from; if Dublin Bus will be given priority in order for it to run the 41X through the Dublin Port tunnel; and the date he expects to grant a licence to Dublin Bus. [26001/07]
Deputy Noel Dempsey Deputy Noel Dempsey
Deputy Noel Dempsey: Dublin Bus is not subject to licensing in accordance with the provisions of the 1932 Road Transport Act, as amended. However, the initiation or alteration of a bus service by the Company is subject to compliance with the necessary regulatory requirement of giving advance notice to my Department and to compliance with the provisions of Section 25 of the Transport Act 1958 concerning competition with licensed private operators.
On the 22nd March, 2007, Dublin Bus notified my Department of its proposal to re-route four of its existing Route 41X services from Swords via the Port Tunnel. At that time, my Department advised the Company that a decision on the proposal was being deferred until such time as an application from a private operator for a high frequency service from Swords via the Port Tunnel to the City Centre was finalised.
On the 3rd October, 2007, my Department issued a licence in accordance with the Road Transport Act, 1932 to the private operator concerned. It is a condition of the licence that the services are in operation in their entirety within 4 months from the date of issue of the licence. While it is a matter for the operator concerned to introduce the services within the timeframe, my Department understands that the operator proposes to commence operations within a matter of weeks.
My Department is now considering the Route 41X proposal from Dublin Bus, taking into consideration the newly licensed service. My Depart ment will revert to Dublin Bus as soon as possible on the proposal.
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Transport further to Parliamentary Question No. 151 of 18 October 2007, the reason that his Department was able to provide a subsidy to Lough Swilly Bus Company to provide a public bus service to the people of north Donegal and Derry City in the 1980s and subsequently removed this subsidy; and the reason his Department has not intervened to ensure that the people of north Donegal have the same level of public transport as elsewhere in the State. [26034/07]
Deputy Noel Dempsey Deputy Noel Dempsey
Deputy Noel Dempsey: The instigation of bus services in any location in the country is in the first instance an operational matter for bus operators and I have no power to direct operators to provide bus services in a particular area or to directly subvent such services. Private bus operators may apply to my Department for the grant of licences under the Road Transport Act 1932 in respect of the operation of services or, Bus Éireann or Dublin Bus, as appropriate, may notify my Department of their intention to provide such services. In addition, both private and public bus operators may apply for approval for the issue of International Authorisations in respect of services that operate to and from destinations in Northern Ireland.
While some limited funding was made available to the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Bus Company by CIE in the nineteen eighties, EU policy in relation to the funding of public bus services has been evolving over recent years culminating in the recent adoption of a new EU Regulation on Public Service Obligations in the transport sector.
Under those Regulations, the grant of financial support to a private bus operator for the provision of bus services can only be contemplated on the grounds that a “public service obligation” has been identified as being required in respect of those services. The Regulations also require that the payment of compensation for fulfilling the public service obligation must be established in a contract between the relevant competent authority and the prospective provider of the services. Such contracts may only be entered into following an open tendering exercise.
The Regulations establish strict conditions that must be complied with before a contract can be determined. These include compliance with provisions relating to the funding of public bus services established by the European Court of Justice in July 2003 in its judgement in the Altmark case.
The position in relation to the evolution of this new legal framework was outlined to officials of the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Bus Company at a meeting with officials of my Department on  15th March 2007. It is expected that the EU Regulation will come into effect in late 2009.
Dáil Éireann 640 Written Answers. Public Transport.