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What does the National Transport Authority do?

The principal functions of the National Transport Authority in the Greater Dublin Area are:

  1. preparation and regular review of an integrated long-term (20 year) transportation strategy for the Greater Dublin Area
  2. adoption of a medium term (6 year) integrated implementation plan and strategic traffic management plan
  3. ensuring that the actions of the implementing agencies are supportive of the Authority’s strategy
  4. allocating finance to implementing agencies from the Authority’s block grant provided by the Exchequer and certain revenues generated by the transport system itself
  5. undertaking works where it considers it more convenient, expeditious, effective or economical to do so
  6. promoting an integrated public transport network, implementing integrated ticketing, fares and information schemes, regulating fares and encouraging increased public transport use

At the National level the principal functions are:

  1. to secure the provision of public passenger transport services
  2. to license public bus passenger services that are not subject to a public transport services contract
  3. to develop and maintain a regulatory framework for the control and operation of taxis, hackneys and limousines.

The Authority is under a statutory obligation to have regard to cost-effectiveness and value for money in the discharge of its functions.

Objectives, Strategies & Outcomes for National Transport Authority in the Greater Dublin Area

Objectives

Objectives for the Greater Dublin Area:

  1. Create a connected region
  2. Contribute to sustainable development
  3. Facilitate business, employment and tourism
  4. Improve quality of life
  5. Reduce pollution.

Strategies

  1. A single authority, with responsibility and accountability for integrated surface transport infrastructure and services in the Greater Dublin Area
  2. Invest in new transport infrastructure
  3. Develop an integrated, high quality surface transport system for delivery on the Sustainable Transport and Travel Action Plan of Government.

Outcomes

  1. A modern, attractive public transport system that is integrated, accessible and responsive to customer needs
  2. An integrated transport system in which all of the public transport services (Luas, metro, bus and suburban rail) are connected through high-quality interchange facilities, integrated ticketing, fares and customer information to create a cohesive network operating potentially under one distinctive common brand
  3. An accessible public transport system, which ensures that most people are within easy reach of a reliable public transport service and which enables people with disability or mobility impairment to access public transport services

A major shift from car commuting to public transport, cycling and walking as more sustainable modes of transport.

Ten things the Authority is doing for the Greater Dublin Area
  1. Rationalising and streamlining the planning and delivery of transport infrastructure and services. The Authority is a one-stop-shop for all transport issues in the Region. Previous institutional arrangements relied on voluntary cooperation between the many agencies involved in delivering transport projects and services in the Greater Dublin Area
  2. Providing a single body with an explicit mandate to deliver an improved transport system and unambiguous authority to ensure that it can deliver
  3. Successfully implementing Government Investment policies in the Greater Dublin Area. The Authority manages the planning and delivery of major projects across multiple agencies. Comparisons may be drawn with the success of the National Roads Authority to manage the planning and delivery of national roads across the various local authorities
  4. Delivering value for money. The establishment of the Authority is delivering faster decision-making and speedier implementation resulting in better value for money. The improved coordination and integration of project and service delivery and more rigorous oversight of project delivery are demonstrating value for money benefits
  5. Improving integration. Transport in the Greater Dublin has suffered from a lack of joined-up thinking in respect of infrastructure and services. This results in duplication of effort and scarce resources and sub-optimal outcomes for the travelling public. For the first time in the history of the State the Authority provides a vehicle through which the disparate elements of transport are connected. One of the Authority’s objectives is to delivery projects designed to ensure improved integration between public transport modes including integrated ticketing, fares and information as well as a single recognisable brand for public transport services in the Greater Dublin Area.
  6. Putting robust linkages in place between transport and land-use planning. This is the key interaction for the future development of the Greater Dublin Area. The legislation ensures that the Authority and the planning authorities at regional and local authority level are in agreement on where development takes place and how it will be served by transport.
  7. Locating responsibility for strategic transport planning, major infrastructure provision and public transport service procurement in one organisation with strong and clear statutory powers in these areas.
  8. Ensuring that traffic management is planned and coordinated at a regional level to ensure that the best use is made of the available road network and a consistent approach is adopted across local authority boundaries, while allowing local issues to be dealt with at the local level.
  9. Developing more sustainable travel patterns and habits across the Greater Dublin Area. The Authority is tasked with this important objective, which includes the development of cycling and walking, car sharing and other initiatives to reduce car use.
  10. Putting accessibility at the heart of transport decision-making. The development of accessible transport is at the centre of the Authority’s objectives in the Greater Dublin Area.
What is the National Transport Authority aiming to do for the travelling public in the Greater Dublin Area?

Rail

The National Transport Authority is overseeing the construction of a regional rail-based commuter network (incorporating Luas, Metro, DART and diesel commuter rail) which:

  • will fully integrate the various rail modes and also with bus services
  • caters for the needs of people with disabilities and people with mobility difficulties
  • provides a real alternative to car commuting for work and leisure.

Transport by Road

The Authority is developing an integrated regional traffic management plan that:

  • manages and optimise the use of scarce road-space (including during the construction of major transport projects)
  • secures the delivery of a fast and frequent, quality bus network across the Greater Dublin Area
  • halts and reverses the decline in cycling and walking in the Greater Dublin Area.

Integration

The Authority is improving the integration of rail and bus services through the delivery of integrated transport ticketing, more structured fares, improved interchange and park & ride facilities, and better information and communication with the travelling public.

Planning

The Authority, acting together with the planning authorities, is ensuring that the planning of transport infrastructure, housing and commercial development is coordinated in order to control urban sprawl and excessive car commuting.

What is the institutional value of the National Transport Authority for the Greater Dublin Area?
  • In the Greater Dublin Area, the Authority has the power to make decisions and to enforce them ensuring improved transport planning and delivery in Dublin
  • The institutional arrangements in respect of transport in the Greater Dublin Area are now reflective of best practice in other cities and city regions throughout Europe
  • The previous planning arrangements for the Greater Dublin Area had developed in a haphazard manner since the foundation of the State and accordingly they struggled to keep pace with the growth of the region particularly since the early 1990s. The Authority is rectifying this situation and importantly, transport and land use are now considered in an integrated way for the Greater Dublin Area. The National Transport Authority has become an integral part of the process for the consideration and development of regional planning guidelines, development plans and local area plans across the Greater Dublin Area and the National Transport Authority’s transport strategy will be a key consideration in determining settlement patterns in the future.
What powers does the National Transport Authority have to ensure better integration of public transport services in the Greater Dublin Area?

The National Transport Authority has extensive powers reflecting the crucial importance of public transport service integration in securing a substantial increase in public transport use and more specifically as a key measure in persuading car commuters to make the change to public transport.
At a strategic level the National Transport Authority is required to secure the provision of public transport services. The National Transport Authority’s detailed implementation plan must set out the steps to be taken by the National Transport Authority to ensure the effective integration of public transport services. The National Transport Authority procures such services by way of public transport services contracts.
In addition, the National Transport Authority has a statutory obligation to promote the use of public transport in the Greater Dublin Area and statutory powers to implement:

  • a single public transport brand
  • an integrated ticketing system
  • integrated information (multi-modal journey planning and real time passenger information)
  • a fares scheme
  • open access to bus stops and railway stations.

Where necessary, the National Transport Authority has the power to require participation by public transport operators in the initiatives listed above.

What powers does the National Transport Authority have to deal with traffic management in the Greater Dublin Area?

The National Transport Authority has extensive powers relating to traffic management. First and foremost the National Transport Authority sets the strategic context within which traffic management is planned across the Greater Dublin Area through the preparation of a strategic traffic management plan. The National Transport Authority consults widely in the preparation of this plan. Following the completion of the strategic traffic management plan, the seven road authorities within the Greater Dublin Area must develop local traffic plans for their areas that are consistent with the strategic plan. This process allows for a more coherent and consistent approach to a whole variety of traffic management measures across the Greater Dublin Area including traffic signalling, bus lane operating hours, cycling, pedestrian facilities, car parking, etc.

The National Transport Authority also has the power to issue traffic management guidelines to road authorities in the Greater Dublin Area. Furthermore the National Transport Authority has the power to issue directions to road authorities for the purpose of securing the implementation of its strategic traffic management plan. The National Transport Authority is also able to exercise step-in powers as a last resort. In those circumstances the National Transport Authority is able to take the place of a road authority.

In addition to the foregoing the National Transport Authority is responsible for funding traffic management measures in the Greater Dublin Area.

How is the National Transport Authority streamlining the delivery of transport in the Greater Dublin Area?

The National Transport Authority is ensuring the speedy, effective and co-ordinated implementation of transport investment, policies and programmes, consistent with the strategic planning framework and adequate to address the needs of the Greater Dublin Area.

The National Transport Authority has also rationalised earlier institutional arrangements by absorbing the functions of the Dublin Transportation Office and the Commission for Taxi Regulation. As a result synergies have been created as important expertise and skills are now being shared across a wider range of projects.

How is the National Transport Authority improving the sustainability of transport in the Greater Dublin Area?

The National Transport Authority is focussed on providing a mass transit system for the Greater Dublin Area that is fully integrated between the different public transport modes and more importantly which takes account of land use plans for the Greater Dublin Area. The delivery of a mass transit system will significantly reduce the need for car commuting in the future. In addition the National Transport Authority is actively promoting measures to reducing car commuting including the development of cycling and walking initiatives.

How has the establishment of the National Transport Authority impacted on the responsibilities and powers of other agencies dealing with transport in the Greater Dublin Area?
The Local Authorities continue to be responsible for day-to-day traffic management within their areas, however, the authorities now have to act in a way that is consistent with the National Transport Authority’s transport strategy and strategic traffic management plan. The National Transport Authority is empowered to give directions to local authorities in respect of traffic management and also has the power to perform the functions of a road authority if necessary. An Garda Siochána’s traffic management responsibilities remain unchanged. The National Roads Authority continues to perform its existing statutory functions but is required to act in a manner that is consistent with the National Transport Authority’s transport strategy. The National Transport Authority does have the power to give directions to the NRA in certain circumstances. The Dublin Transportation Office was dissolved and its functions and staff transferred to the National Transport Authority. The Commission for Taxi Regulation was dissolved and its functions and staff transferred to the National Transport Authority. The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) continues as before.  However, the National Transport Authority has taken on the statutory responsibility for the integrated ticketing project. The RPA continues to be the delivery agent for this project but under the oversight of the National Transport Authority. In addition, the National Transport Authority has step-in powers in respect of light rail and metro projects being overseen by the RPA. Finally, the Authority has assigned to the RPA its function of procuring light rail operations. Dublin BusIrish Rail and Bus Éireann continue to operate public transport services. However, they now do so on the basis of contracts entered into with the National Transport Authority in respect of the non-commercial services operated by those companies for social and economic reasons.
What powers does the National Transport Authority have over transport agencies involved in public transport capital investment projects?

The National Transport Authority can give directions to transport operators, agencies and authorities in the Greater Dublin Area in order to secure the execution of its transport strategy and implementation plans including the provision of public transport infrastructure, the integration of public transport services and the implementation of traffic management measures.

The power of direction is an important part of the National Transport Authority’s powers. The National Transport Authority has the power to assume control of public transport infrastructure projects where it believes that it would be more effective or economical for it to do so. Similarly the National Transport Authority is able to assume control of traffic management projects where a road authority does not comply with a direction given to it or where the National Transport Authority considers that circumstances warrant its intervention.

The designated Minister may request the National Transport Authority to obtain his or her approval before the Authority gives directions or exercises its power to step-in and take control of projects. This measure provides a safety mechanism in the unlikely event of the National Transport Authority abusing its powers in these areas.

If a transport authority or operator refuses or fails to comply with a direction given to it, the National Transport Authority is able to apply to the High Court for an order requiring compliance. Non-compliance with a High Court order would amount to contempt of court.

Will the National Transport Authority introduce congestion charging or other demand management measures in the Greater Dublin Area?

The National Transport Authority has responsibility for the implementation of demand management measures, that is, measures which promote a reduction in the total amount of travel by, for example, reducing the need for travel or encouraging travel at less congested times.


The National Transport Authority has the power to prepare an implementation plan for demand management encompassing non-monetary measures to encourage reduced car use, such as car sharing and the promotion of public transport, cycling and walking.


If a decision is made to introduce congestion charging or other pricing mechanisms to manage travel demand in the Greater Dublin Area the National Transport Authority will be responsible for the implementation of the mechanism, however, new legislation will be required to provide the legal basis for any such measures.
Currently legislation provides that any tolling schemes proposed by the National Roads Authority for the Greater Dublin Area, including any schemes for the M50, need to be submitted to the National Transport Authority for approval.

How does the National Transport Authority manage Taxi Regulation?

On January 1st, 2011, the National Transport Authority absorbed the Commission for Taxi Regulation. The National Transport Authority now carries out the functions previously undertaken by the Commission, under its Taxi Regulation Directorate. The principal function of this Taxi Regulation Directorate is the development and maintenance of a regulatory framework for the control and operation of small public service vehicles (taxis, hackneys and limousines) and their drivers.

In exercising this function, the Directorate seeks to achieve the following objectives:

  1. to promote the provision and maintenance of quality services by small public service vehicles and their drivers.
  2. to pursue the continued development of a qualitative and customer orientated licensing system, regulatory code and standards for small public service vehicles, small public service vehicle licence holders and small public service vehicle drivers.
  3. to oversee the development of a professional, safe, efficient and customer-friendly service by small public service vehicles and their drivers.
  4. to encourage and promote competition in relation to services (including fares) offered by small public service vehicles.
  5. in seeking to achieve the provision of quality services by small public service vehicles and their drivers, to have due regard to the protection of service users and providers alike.
  6. to promote measures to facilitate increased integration of taxi services in the public transport system.
  7. to promote the development of high quality cost effective services by small public service vehicles and their drivers which meet a wide range of customer needs including those of passengers with mobility or sensory impairments.
  8. to promote access to small public service vehicles by persons with disabilities.
  9. to encourage investment to support and enhance the services offered by small public service vehicles and to promote innovation in this regard.

More information is available in the taxi licensing section »

Does the National Transport Authority represent commuters and other transport users?

The legislation establishing the National Transport Authority provides for the establishment of a statutory Advisory Council on which transport users will be represented. The Advisory Council will have power to make recommendations to the National Transport Authority on its strategic plans in respect of the Greater Dublin Area and to monitor the implementation of such plans.

In addition the National Transport Authority is obliged to consult with a broad range of interest groups, including transport users, during the preparation of its key strategic plans in respect of the Greater Dublin Area such as the integrated transport strategy, integrated implementation plan and strategic traffic management plan.

Regarding taxi regulation, a statutory taxi Advisory Committee is in place representing taxi industry and consumer bodies. This Committee provides advice and views to the Authority on taxi issues.

Is the National Transport Authority making transport more accessible for people with disabilities?

The National Transport Authority has clear and explicit mandate to deliver a fully integrated and accessible transport network. This mandate has commenced with the National Transport Authority’s high-level transport strategy and extends to its more detailed implementation plans for infrastructure and services.

In preparing its transport strategy and strategic traffic management plan the National Transport Authority is specifically required to have regard to the Department of Transport’s sectoral plan under the Disability Act 2005. The legislation also provides that information about public transport services must be made available in accessible formats and that accessible routes are maintained during the construction of major transport infrastructure projects.

The National Transport Authority will be working with key stakeholders in conjunction with the various transport operators who already have programmes underway for improving accessibility.

How is transport and land use integration being improved?

The Dublin Transport Authority Act contains provisions allowing for greater co-ordination and consistency between land use and transport planning in the Greater Dublin Area.

The Act puts an onus on the regional and planning authorities in the Greater Dublin Area to ensure that their regional planning guidelines, development plans and local area plans are consistent with the National Transport Authority’s transport strategy.

In a reciprocal arrangement, the National Transport Authority, when preparing its transport strategy, will ensure that the regional authorities are consulted at an early stage and that the strategy itself will be consistent with the regional planning guidelines in place in the Greater Dublin Area.

The National Transport Authority as a prescribed authority for the purposes of the various stages in the drafting and making of the guidelines and plans is consulted early at each stage in the preparation of the various guidelines and plans. Accordingly the National Transport Authority must submit a report to the regional and planning authorities addressing such issues as:

  1. the transport investment priorities for the period of the guidelines and plans and how to maximise the performance of the transport system by effective land use planning.
  2. recommendations regarding the optimal use, location, pattern and density of new development taking account of the National Transport Authority’s transport strategy.
  3. recommendations on matters to be addressed in the guidelines and plans to ensure the effective integration of transport and land use planning.

Planning authority managers, when reporting on submissions received on the preparation of development and local area plans, must report on the issues raised and recommendations received in the National Transport Authority’s submission. The planning authority managers must also recommend how the draft development and local area plans should address these issues and recommendations. Similarly, regional authorities, in preparing draft regional planning guidelines, must include a statement in the draft guidelines outlining how they propose to address the matters raised in a submission from the National Transport Authority.

After the draft guidelines and development plans are produced, there is a further opportunity for the National Transport Authority to submit a report stating whether it considers a draft to be consistent or not with its transport strategy. If it considers a draft to be inconsistent with its strategy it must state what amendments it considers necessary to achieve consistency. This report is to be submitted to the relevant regional or planning authorities, the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government. If the report states there are inconsistencies, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government can issue a direction to the relevant regional or planning authorities to review the draft guidelines or plans and to take such measures, as he or she considers necessary, to achieve consistency. If the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government decides not to issue such a direction he or she must inform the National Transport Authority in writing of the reasons for not doing so.

The Act also amends the Planning and Development Act to allow the National Transport Authority to request the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government to use his powers under that Act to issue guidelines or policy directives to a planning authority within the Greater Dublin Area. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, following consultation with the National Transport Authority, can also specify classes of development requiring a transport impact assessment to be produced as part of the planning application process.

The Act also provides that a planning application can be refused (without compensation) if the proposed development would not be consistent with the National Transport Authority’s transport strategy.
The provisions outlined above ensure that land use and transport planning are more closely aligned in the Greater Dublin Area in the future.

The Public Transport Regulation Act provides that the National Transport Authority contribute at the National level to the development of Regional Planning Guidelines of all the regional authorities and report to them on transport aspects of their draft guidelines. These provisions are mostly amendments and insertions to the Planning and Development Acts.

The National Transport Authority through its planning involvement in the Greater Dublin Area and at national level is now a key contributor to determining Ireland’s future settlement patterns.

How does the National Transport Authority licence public bus services?

One of the key tasks of the National Transport Authority has been to establish a modern system for the licensing of commercial public bus passenger services. The objective is to promote regulated competition in the provision of licensed public bus passenger services on a national basis in the public interest, as well as to promote integrated, well-functioning and cost efficient public passenger transport services.

 

Since December 2010 a new regulatory regime has been introduced for the licensing of commercial public bus services. The new regime applies in respect of all commercial services, including those provided by Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus. It features clear criteria against which applications for licences are considered and it is supported by an up to date system of penalties for non-compliance with a licence.

 

Before the new licensing regime came into effect, the National Transport Authority prepared and published draft guidelines in relation to the operation of the new licensing regime. The guidelines were the subject of consultation with the Minister for Transport, the Competition Authority and the general public. Final guidelines are now in place since being adopted by the Board of the National Transport Authority.

 

Since December 2010, the National Transport Authority has commenced issuing licenses under this new regime.

 

More information is available in the bus licensing section

What is the National Transport Authority doing to promote cycling?

Throughout the Greater Dublin Area , the National Transport Authority is working actively with the local authorities to develop better facilities for cyclists.  New cycleways have been developed, cycle lanes have been designated on roads and numerous junction improvements benefiting cycling have been put in place.

During 2011, a total of €12.54 million was invested by the National Transport Authority into walking and cycling projects across the seven local authorities in the region.  15 kilometres of new cycle lane was delivered as part of this investment along with 21 kilometres of footpath projects.  In addition, a major street resurfacing project undertaken in Dublin City, co-funded with the National Roads Authority, saw 19 kilometres of cycle track resurfaced.

During 2011, the NTA published the National Cycling Manual, which represents a comprehensive guide to the development of on-road and off-road cycle facilities.

What is the National Transport Authority doing to promote rail?

Significant investment continues to be made in improving rail services.  New rail carriages are in the process of being introduced into the fleet.   Station improvements have been undertaken in dozens of stations throughout the country during 2011.  Investment also continues to be made in the signalling, communications and control equipment used to operate the railway.

On the services side, the recent introduction of the new Leap card makes rail travel in the Dublin area more convenient than ever.  Over 2012 it is intended to enhance the products available on the Leap card and increase the benefits that it can deliver.

A rationalising of rail fare structures was also undertaken by the National Transport Authority, in conjunction with Irish Rail, resulting in a greater standardisation of rail fares.

What is the National Transport Authority doing to promote walking?

The National Transport Authority is working with the local authorities throughout the Greater Dublin Area to improve walking facilities and to make walking more convenient as a mode of transport.

New footpaths have been developed, particularly in and adjoining towns, where no footpaths had previously been provided.  Numerous additional pedestrian crossings, including facilities for the mobility impaired, have been installed.

During 2011, a total of €12.54 million was invested by the National Transport Authority into walking and cycling projects across the seven local authorities in the region.  This delivered 21 kilometres of new footpath in addition to numerous cycling and other projects.