Transport Minister Noel Dempsey has said that legislation to reform bus licencing throughout the Republic of Ireland will be brought forward in 2009.
Responding to a Dail question by Sean McEntee, suggesting the reform be brought forward to allow private operators access to the market in order to reduce the CIE group subsidy, Mr Dempsey said that the existing system under the 1932 Act would continue to facilitate licence applications until new legislation was introduced.
Noel Dempsey Dail Reply
“The Agreed Programme for Government includes a commitment to improving bus services under Transport 21 by reforming the bus licensing provisions of the Road Transport Act 1932, to facilitate the optimum provision of services by providing a level playing field for all market participants, both public and private.
The legislative framework to support the authorisation and provision of improved public bus services in the Greater Dublin Area has already been updated through the passage of the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008, which establishes a new contractual structure relating to the provision of subvented bus services in the Greater Dublin Area.
It is my intention that proposals for a new bus licensing regime will be contained in a Public Transport Regulation Bill which will deal with the replacement of the Road Transport Act 1932 and the provisions of the Transport Act 1958 that relate to the provision of bus services by the State bus companies. It is envisaged that the new licensing structure will apply in respect of all commercial bus services, including those provided by Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann, and will encompass provisions relating to the subvented bus market outside the Greater Dublin Area in a manner consistent with EU Regulation No. 1370/2007 on public service obligations and similar to the contractual framework used in the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008.
Until the proposed legislation is enacted, applications for new bus licences and notifications from State bus operators will continue to be processed under the provisions of the Road Transport Act 1932, as amended, and the notification system with reference to the Transport Act 1958, as appropriate.
The Government has committed to examining the need for a National Transport Regulator in the context of the overall review of the economic regulatory environment. As part of the public transport regulatory reform programme, consideration is being given to the establishment of a national transport authority.
The Public Transport Regulation Bill is included in the Government Legislative Programme in the list of Bills that have yet to be approved by Government. It is my intention to seek Government approval to a General Scheme of the Bill before the end of the year with a view to publication in 2009″.