Funding for road repairs and transport to be slashed
PUBLIC transport and road repair projects are facing further cuts as part of a brutal €115m reduction in the transport budget.
The budget is set to be hit hard by the Government for the third year in a row.
Cutbacks of up to €53m in the state subvention to public transport will increase the pressure on Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann, who have recently faced industrial action over cost-cutting plans.
There will be further reductions of up to €22m in grants for regional roads and cuts to the maintenance budget for motorways.
The funding for the Rural Transport Scheme for people in areas not well served by public transport is going to be cut back as the number of transport groups is reduced. This is expected to save over €500,000.
And there will also be another steep cut of up to €4m in the budget for the Road Safety Authority. However, the department is insisting that the agency will soon be self-financing due to the income from driving licence fees – which were hiked this year from €25 to €55 for a 10-year licence.
The Department of Transport's planned spending cuts have been laid out in its submission for the Comprehensive Expenditure Review process. It has provided a road map for its spending cuts for the 2012-2014 period.
Last year, the Department of Transport suffered the third-biggest spending cut of any department.
At the time, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said he was satisfied to make this contribution because it was helping the Government to avoid deeper cuts in education, health, and children's services.
But he will have to lobby Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin for a reduction in his department's €115m cutback target to avoid an even harsher impact this year.
A Department of Transport spokesman declined to comment on the proposed cutbacks. He said Mr Varadkar's priority was to protect the budget for road maintenance and maintain safety across its operations.