Budget 2023 “missed opportunity” to restore full confidence in public transport 

While welcoming the increased investment in public transport projects and the extension of the Youth Travel Card, the representative body contends that fare inequity remains

The Coach Tourism and Transport Council (CTTC), Ireland’s largest representative body for commercial bus operators has today responded to measures announced as part of Budget 2023, noting that it is a “missed opportunity” to restore full confidence in public transport.  

While welcoming the 3% increase in capital funding for transport projects alongside the extension of the Youth Travel Card, the ongoing decision to exclude commercial bus operators (CBOs) from the 20% fare reduction scheme has been met with disappointment. Budget 2023 makes provisions for the scheme to be extended until the end of 2023 – but commuters who use private transport will not be able to avail of the discounted fares. The CTTC contends that this decision will actively disadvantage regional and rural commuters as a large proportion of these passengers use transport provided by commercial operators.  

As a sector responsible for supporting in excess of 11,000 jobs and contributing €600 million annually to the Exchequer, the CTTC has expressed its desire to continue engaging with all transport stakeholders with a view to ensuring that all passengers can avail of the 20% fare reduction. The representative body is keen to build on its previous engagement in relation to the Youth Travel Card, as it successfully secured the extension of this scheme to all passengers. 

In its pre-Budget 2023 submission to the Department of Finance, the CTTC had urged the Government to mobilise the private bus and coach network to help deliver efficient, affordable public transport that supports national efforts on sustainability. In light of ongoing difficulties surrounding the procurement of transport provision, the representative body had also requested the urgent reduction of excise duty on fuel – a proposal which was accepted.  

As a sector responsible for transporting an average of 2 million tourists across Ireland per year, CTTC members have an innate understanding of the value of tourism to regional and rural economies. In this vein, the CTTC urged the Government to allocate increased funding for marketing Ireland abroad. Budget 2023 marks €15 million for the tourism marketing fund, in addition to the €15 million allocated for Fáilte Ireland initiatives.

Speaking today, Chairperson of the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC), John Halpenny said: “On behalf of the private bus and coach sector, I must express our disappointment with the Budgetary measures announced by the Government today, which miss a vital opportunity to restore full commuter confidence in public transport. While we do, of course, welcome the increased capital investment in transport projects, the extension of the reduction in excise duty on fuel and the initiation of construction procurement on a number of crucial bus corridors, the sentiment among our members is that Budget 2023 has failed to address ongoing fare inequity across the national transport network. 

Going forward, a core priority for the CTTC is ensuring that all CBOs are included in the 20% fare reduction scheme. The decision to extend this scheme until the end of 2023, without the provisions to incorporate the private bus network, is one which could adversely impact service provision. In light of this, we are keen to engage proactively with all transport stakeholders that full parity of fares is realised as soon as possible. Fares must be fair for all”.