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Unread 09-11-2006, 20:33   #1
Navan Junction
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Default [ireland.com] Transport body will hold firms accountable - Cullen

Last updated: 09-11-06, 19:56

A new Dublin Transport Authority will hold transport companies responsible for the service they provide to the public, the Minister for Transport has said.

Publishing the report by an establishment team set up to examine how the new authority would work, Mr Cullen said the DTA will be given overall responsibility for surface transport in the Greater Dublin Area. Under the Government's Transport 21 initiative, some EUR14 billion will be invested in the Dublin Transport system up to 2005.

A new extension to the Luas line will feature in the Dublin Transportation Authority's proposals.
It is proposed that local authorities will be obliged to consult with the DTA when they are preparing their development plans.

The DTA will also have the right to make recommendations to the Minister for the Environment in relation to local authority planning guidelines or development plans. But the DTA will not, as recommended by the establishment team, have power to override local authorities on land-use issues to make sure their plans are not inconsistent with transport objectives.

Mr Cullen said the Government had decided not to accept all the recommendations of the team on the basis that they might dilute the "democratic accountability" of the planning process.

The DTA will have overall responsibility for surface transport in the area covered by the local authorities of Dublin city, Fingal, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, South Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.

Mr Cullen said he was conscious that certain Dublin commuter services may not fall "neatly within this area".

"Provision will be made in the legislation to allow the authority take account of longer distance travel patterns and assume responsibility for procuring transport services outside the authority's boundaries," he said.

Also under today's proposals, there will be legislative changes affecting CIÉ and its three operating subsidiaries. In future, the boards of Dublin Bus, Iarnrod Éireann and Bus Éireann would be appointed by the Minister and not by the CIÉ chair.

The new DTA would also have powers to issue "advisory guidelines and mandatory directions" to the three companies, as well as to CIÉ itself.

The authority

will assume

responsibility for overseeing all major public transport projects, including Metro, a new rail tunnel through the city centre and the extension of the Luas network.

It will regulate public transport in the city and will ultimately have responsibility for bus routes and the proposed integrated ticketing system.

Mr Cullen will shortly establish an interim DTA pending legislation to put the body on a statutory footing. The interim authority will recruit a chief executive and senior staff and will, in due course, become the statutory authority.
He has not yet announced who will chair the DTA but said he would do so "in the near future". A public consultation process on today's report by the establishment team will now take place.

"I have set aside the period up until the beginning of December for consultation," Mr Cullen said

"This consultation is in accordance with the Government's social partnership agreement Towards 2016. Once I have had an opportunity to consider and reflect on the views received, I will finalise my proposals, taking account of the outcome of the consultation, and will publish a Bill before Christmas."

The report also proposes that the new body will have the power to set fares, complete the integrated ticketing project and regulate the entire market.

Roisin Shortall, the Labour Party's spokeswoman on transport, said she was concerned a key recommendation that the authority should be given new powers over local authorities to ensure land use was consistent with integrated transport plans had not been accepted.

She said: "I am also concerned that the minister has rejected one of the key recommendations of the Establishment Team that 'land use and transport integration' should be a core part of the legislation to establish the new authority.

The minister has rejected this on the grounds that it 'would unnecessarily dilute the democratic accountability of the planning process'."

Ms Shortall added: "It is difficult to see how we can solve our traffic and transport problems without an integrated approach that includes land use."

Professor Margaret O'Mahony, director of the centre for transport research at Trinity College Dublin, recommended the body be given overall responsibility for surface transport in Dublin city, Fingal, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, South Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.

Ms Shortall said she was also concerned there were no proposals for democratic accountability in regard to the proposed structure of the DTA.

Olivia Mitchell, Fine Gael's transport spokeswoman, said the report had shelved plans to open up the bus market.

© The Irish Times/ireland.com

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