Funding for the Free Travel Pass Scheme for the duration of the National Recovery Plan 2011 was frozen at 2010 levels. During this period the number of eligible participants has increased significantly along with operator’s costs.
The CTTC recommends that additional resources are allocated to the scheme to increase payments to private operators to cover the increased costs of providing this essential service.
The CTTC calls on Government to recognise the reality of the serious decline in coach values and the age profile of the fleet.
CTTC recommends an introduction of a special capital allowance of 50% of the cost of new and second hand vehicles up to two years old for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 in order to stimulate re-fleeting by coach providers and ensure quality standards.
To ensure compliance with ongoing legislation, RSA inspection and improve Health and Safety and quality standards.
CTTC recommend that the Government allows construction and improvement costs of garage facilities to be fully written off in the year of occurrence. This initiative will stimulate the highest standard of vehicle maintenance throughout the industry and create regional employment in the building and repair sectors.
At present social welfare claimants are assessed on the days per week they work.
The CTTC recommends social welfare claimants be assessed on the actual hours they work rather than the days per week that they work. The measure would benefit operators hiring staff for just a few hours per day (e.g. school runs) without the need for the employee to lose all of their state benefits. This will also bring more people into the tax net as employers would be paying PRSI on these employees.
Road toll costs are a significant expense to the industry.
CTTC recommend that commercial passenger operators will be able to avail of free or reduced tolls to help reduce the excessive costs associated with the payment of tolls and to reduce vehicle usage of non-tolled infrastructure.
At present there appears to be no coherent approach or rationale to the provision of disability accessible vehicles by non-state funded operators. It is our view that the issue of vehicle accessibility cannot be looked at in isolation from the provision of appropriate environmental infrastructure to facilitate access to the vehicle itself. To achieve a fully integrated public transport system all bus operators should have access to publicly funded transport infrastructure e.g. bus stations, railway stations etc.
The CTTC recommends the introduction of grant aid to improve accessibility, fast track vehicle refits and the purchase of accessible vehicles.
There is a requirement for investment to maintain standards and provide more environmentally friendly vehicles.
To stimulate the above, CTTC recommends a Carbon Tax Rebate on all forms of public transport.
The Passenger Transport Industry is constantly challenged by substantial operating costs e.g. the cost of diesel is 5.5% higher in Ireland than the European average.
CTTC recommend that there should be no increase in excise duty on fuel in order to maintain the recent growth in the Industry.
Coach Tourism is a very substantial source of revenue to the Irish exchequer with revenue contributing in excess of €330 million to the Irish economy and supporting over 17,000 tourism jobs, however the industry faces significant barriers to continued growth particularly in respect of the age profile of drivers and the excessive costs of licence qualification in the region of €1,500.
CTTC recommends that Tax relief is given to employers in the industry to stimulate the training on new drivers.
Present inequalities in the Irish Tax system place coach tourism operators in the Republic of Ireland at a major competitive disadvantage to their counterparts in Northern Ireland. Those operators have the benefit of a zero VAT rate, which enables them to reclaim all of their inputs including the VAT on fuel. This has resulted in an increasing number of coaches from Northern Ireland being used in tourism in the Republic with the resulting loss of tax revenue to the state.
CTTC recommends that operators in southern Ireland should have zero VAT rate allowing them to compete on an equal footing with their northern counterparts.
Budget 2016 sees 8% increase for Dept of Transport, Tourism & Sport which will support the economy & secure the recovery - Donohoe & Ring
Additional €28m for increased public transport services through PSO
Funding levels for tourism, sport, aviation and maritime all increased to support policy objectives
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, and Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring TD, have today (Tuesday) said the increase in their Department's budgetary allocation for 2016, which provides for €1.74 billion for the Department next year, will support policy objectives across a range of areas which will help support the growing economy and secure our future recovery.
Budget 2016 provides for an increase in current expenditure by €47 million, or 7%. Capital expenditure is increasing by €77 million, or 8%. This is the first year since 2011 that the Department's baseline allocation for capital investment is more than €1 billion, which is important progress in ensuring that what we have remains in good working order, while also furthering new projects which will enhance our future prospects.
Minister Donohoe said: 'We are making good progress across all the programmes under my Department's remit. 2016 will see continued momentum with the support of additional funding this year of around €125m compared to last. With an overall budget allocation of €1.74 billion next year, and a multi-annual capital commitment of €10bn over 7 years, we now have the resources to target investment in our transport network, support our tourism sector and promote sport to drive our country forward. This time last year I had €1.6 billion available to me for the year ahead. Today's budget provides for an additional €125 million or almost 8%, which will have a positive impact across all sectors of the Department'.
"As the economy recovers, the demand and associated costs for increased services grows. This poses challenges which require careful planning, analysis and investment to meet those needs. The growth in the economy, which is seeing a corresponding increase in passenger demand for services, means that a more appropriate level of funding for our public transport sector is now needed. If we fail to provide for adequate services, we run the risk of hampering our future economic growth and increased congestion which has the capacity to stifle the steady progress we have been making. With this in mind, I am happy to be able to announce an additional €28 million for Public Service Obligation (PSO) funding this year, which will be used to enhance and develop the current level of public transport services being delivered. This is the first time since 2008 that PSO funding has been increased and this allocation represents more than half of the reduction in PSO funding since 2011 (at €53 million). Last year I was able to maintain it at the same level as in 2014, however, 2016 will the first year in eight years that an increase has been secured in this area, which is significant.
"Where tourism is concerned, I am pleased that Budget 2016 sees the first funding increase since 2008 in the allocation for overseas tourism marketing activity. This will allow us to continue to encourage more tourists to come to Ireland and help grow jobs in that sector. I am also pleased that a decision has been made to retain the lower VAT rate of 9% which has had a significant impact on the tourist industry and its ability to create new and retain existing jobs.
"The decision too to simplify and reduce commercial motor tax rates will be welcomed by the haulage industry as it will help them to compete on a fairer footing and will improve competitiveness within the sector. We are not out of the woods yet in terms of our economic recovery but we are making very good progress. The measures announced today will assist in supporting our future recovery, getting more people back to work and protecting the infrastructure and services upon which we so heavily rely."
The areas that have been prioritised for funding include the following:
Land transport, including public transport services through PSO
Represents 79% of total Vote
€1.37bn, representing a 7% increase on 2015
14% increase in PSO subvention
Land transport receives a 7% increase on 2015 for a total of €1.37 billion. The Department's recently published Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport report provides a very solid evidence-base for prioritising the constrained funding available for land transport. In order to deliver the investment needed to keep the physical assets of the transport network in good working order we must build on what we are currently providing. The Capital Plan recently announced will see annual investment in land transport rise from €1 billion this year to €1.9 billion in 2022, ensuring the right level of investment is secured over time.
Included in the land transport programme is provision for:
€555 million for roads maintenance and PPP projects;
€347 million for public transport investment, including investment essential for the maintenance and renewal of the rail network, LUAS Cross City, City Centre Re-signalling Project, Phoenix Park Tunnel, bus fleet renewal and expansion programme, and IT / integration projects such as LEAP card.
Public transport services (Public Service Obligation):
An additional €28 million or a 14% increase in Public Service Obligation (PSO) subvention is also being provided to support increased public transport services, including those operated under the Rural Transport Programme. The priorities for the use of this funding will be responding to passenger demand by intensifying key routes on Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann services, the opening of the Phoenix Park Tunnel for commuter services and DART service improvements. There will also be rural service improvements. As a result of this extra funding the NTA will now finalise its plans for 2016.
€121m for tourism programme
Up 1% on 2015
Includes €2m in additional funding to support co-operative overseas marketing, the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland's Ancient East and the Rugby World Cup 2023 bid.
A strong Exchequer funding commitment to the sector will be key to achieving the ambitions set out in the recently published tourism policy; 'People, Place and Policy - Growing Tourism to 2025'. Budget 2016 sees additional investment of €2 million in key elements of Fáilte Ireland's and Tourism Ireland's programmes along with continued capital investment next year and beyond to 2022.
This funding will enhance supports to the new experience brands of the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland's Ancient East and Dublin, provide funding needed for the Rugby World Cup 2023 bid and increase overseas marketing activities in key destination markets. Within the overall additional investment of €2 million, half will be used in the allocation for overseas tourism marketing activity. This is the first increase in this funding since 2008. This will enable our strong overseas marketing campaigns to continue in our key target markets and help ensure that our ambitious targets for further growth are met.