Budget 2024 will ensure that families and young adults will continue to benefit from cheaper public transport fares. The 50% discount for those with the ‘Young Adult Card’ has been extended for two more years and will now benefit 19 to 25 year olds up to their 26th birthday. Currently the discount ends when a person reaches 24 years old. These additional cuts come alongside the 20% fare reductions for all, originally introduced as a temporary cost-of-living measure, and has been secured for another year.
As passenger numbers on public transport increase, it is clear that these reductions are helping more people to choose sustainable modes of travel with recent data indicating a nearly 15% increase in bus passenger numbers and almost 8% increase in train passenger numbers since 2019. Minister Ryan has also secured a commitment to review transport costs for under 18s including the cost implications before Budget 2025.
The funding for the maintenance and safety of the Irish road network is a central responsibility of the Department of Transport. Investment into the protection and renewal of the roads system remains a priority and will see €937m allocated in 2024. This allocation will continue to maximise the value of investment in the roads and to ensure the safety of the roads system for all users. Funding will also be provided for the development of new roads projects at a cost of over €200m across the country. Currently, there are 10 national, regional and local road projects under or nearing construction which further demonstrates the Government’s commitment to improving the safety and connectivity of our roads.
This year’s budget will see further investment in new public transport developments with approximately €220m for bus projects and €200m for rail across the country. This allocation will ensure the continued roll out of new and enhanced services across flagship projects like BusConnects in the cities and new town services. Investment will be earmarked for the Connecting Ireland programme, which so far this year has delivered 105 new and enhanced services across rural Ireland.
This substantial investment will see further progress in making the public transport network cleaner and greener including the purchase of 70 new electric double-deck buses for Dublin and 101 electric double-deck buses for cities outside Dublin covering Limerick, Galway and Cork. The electric charging infrastructure at Drogheda station, combined with 65 new battery-electric trains which will start arriving into Ireland next year, will allow for a new DART service to start between Dublin city and Drogheda in 2025. All of these investments will encourage people to leave their private vehicles at home, to choose to take more public transport journeys and be part of the effort to reach the national Climate Action Plan targets of reducing transport-emissions by 50% by 2030.
Since 2020, hundreds of kilometres of new and improved walking and cycling infrastructure have been delivered across the country. This ambition has once again been guaranteed, with €360m allocated to walking and cycling infrastructure for 2024. Projects in this year’s budget include the Longford Town pedestrian and cycling project on the R198 and N63 and the Wolfe Tone Bridge in Galway among many more.
Greenways will also benefit from this year’s budget with construction continuing on 10 projects across the country including Carlingford Lough, the Great Western Greenway in Mayo and construction to begin on the South Kerry Greenway between Glenbeigh and Caherciveen.
Funding of €21m has also been ringfenced for road safety measures in response to the increased number of fatal road traffic collisions on Irish roads in recent times. €15m has been earmarked for road safety upgrades including improvements to junctions and other schemes such as the N20 Mahon Slip Extension in Cork. €6m in funding has also been secured for specific interventions including additional public awareness campaigns and to conduct a review and develop the driver testing curriculum.
Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan said, “I am delighted that we can continue to extend and improve the historic fare reductions, which are now heading into their third year and particularly pleased that we could extend the 50% Young Adult Card out to 24 and 25 year olds. This makes Ireland one of the most cost effective countries in Europe to travel as a young person. But we won’t stop there. We have also secured a commitment to review transport fares for under 18s and my ambition is that we can move towards zero cost travel for children and teenagers in 2025.”
“It’s also significant that we could secure adequate funding to keep moving at speed and scale with our transformative public transport ambitions. Metrolink will enter the next phase bringing it ever closer to construction, and we will start to roll out electric buses in many of our cities, following on the success of the all-electric Athlone bus service. We can also move on with our rail plans for Cork and continue the roll out of further BusConnects in our cities. Our secured budget also means that we can continue the phenomenal roll out of new and enhanced buses across rural Ireland. We’ve introduced 105 so far since 2022, and we can keep this momentum going. Finally, with over a billion euro for roads, we can continue to invest in the protection and renewal of our road network, keeping them well maintained and safe for all road users.”
Minister Chambers commented, “I am pleased that Budget 2024 prioritises keeping people safe on our roads following a very worrying increase in road fatalities with many tragedies, involving our young people in particular, shocking communities all over Ireland this year. This budget delivers focused investment in road safety with a €21m ringfenced package of measures to develop specific road improvement projects, like addressing dangerous junctions and to strengthen Road Safety Authority awareness and communications campaigns, as well as updating driver curriculum so motorists are equipped with the necessary skills to use our roads in the safest way.”
“I am also very pleased that €937m has been allocated for the protection and renewal of our national roads system. These initiatives are further complemented by the continued roll out of the Safe Routes to School Programme which will provide safer infrastructure in and around schools across the country as well as continued funding of the €360m per year commitment to developing Active Travel and our Greenways Programmes.”
“I also welcome the €100m for the Irish Coast Guard, including an extra €5m, for training our incredible volunteers and staff as they continue to provide world class search and rescue services, often in the most challenging of circumstances. In 2023 we funded all our regional airports providing enhanced connectivity for people all across our island and delivering more balanced regional development. €17m is secured today and I look forward to outlining how regional airports will continue to be supported when the review of the Regional Airports Programme is concluded.”
Here’s what Budget 2024 will make possible:
• Further reductions to the Young Adult Card giving 50% discounts on fares for 24 and 25 years olds on PSO and commercial services. This commitment has been secured for 2 years.
• Retention of 20% discount on public transport for all on PSO services
• 90-minute ticket on PSO services for all users
Walking and Cycling
• €360 million for walking and cycling infrastructure projects through the Active Travel and Greenways Programmes
• Purchase of 70 new double-deck electric buses for Dublin and provision of depot facilities
• Purchase of 101 new double-deck electric buses for outside Dublin, covering Limerick, Galway and Cork
• Funding for Core Bus Corridor procurement and network redesign for BusConnects Cork
• Installation of charging infrastructure at Drogheda train station in advance of the new battery-electric DART trains entering service on this line in 2025
• Protection and renewal of the heavy rail network as well as bus/rail fleet renewals and station upgrades
• Implementation of BusConnects Dublin, including purchase of new electric buses and procurement for core bus corridors
• Commencement of procurement/construction of the Clongriffin and Blackrock Core Bus Corridor, subject to planning permission
• Movement to the next phase of Metrolink including the commencement of recruitment for key staff for project delivery as Metrolink enters the next phase of the planning cycle
• Purchase of 101 double-deck electric buses for BusConnect programmes in other cities, for Cork, Galway and Limerick
• Continued roll out of new and enhanced bus routes through Bus Connects, Connecting Ireland and town services
• Progress the Cork Area Commuter Rail Programme (CACR) inluding signalling upgrade on the track and double-tracking of the Glounthaune to Midleton line
• Completion of construction of a through-platform at Kent Station, as part the CACR project
Emergency transport services
• An additional €4m has been allocated to deliver emergency transport service requirements for Ukrainian refugees
Electric Vehicles Supports and Infrastructure Roll-Out
• Funding of €102m for the promotion of electric vehicles including grants and infrastructure measures to highlight the benefits of going electric and savings that can be made by the consumer
Supporting our Regional Airports
• 2024 spending will also include almost €17 million in funding to support connectivity and balanced development for our regional airports including Ireland West Airport Knock, Donegal and Kerry
Road Safety Measures
• €21m ringfenced for road safety including improvements to dangerous junctions and to conduct a review of the driver testing curriculum