The National Transport Authority or NTA is the transport authority for Greater Dublin and the public transport licensing agency for Ireland. It was established under the provisions of the Dublin Transport Authority Act (2008) and the Public Transport Regulation Act (2009), on 1 December 2009.
The NTA took over certain functions from the Department of Transport and the entire role of the Dublin Transportation Office.
The Dublin Transport Authority was renamed the National Transport Authority and assumes the Commission for Taxi Regulation. It extended the DTA legislation.
The Authority’s functions are revised to include regulated competition in the provision of licensed bus passenger services, the public interest and the provision of a well-functioning, attractive, integrated and safe public transport system of services and networks for all the users.
NTA also took over the functions of the Commission for Taxi Regulation when Part 4 of the Public Transport Regulation Act (2009) commenced on 1 January 2011. The Commission for Taxi Regulation was dissolved, and its staff, assets, etc., are transferred to the Authority.
Licensing Bus Services
The Public Transport Regulation Act 2009 sought to establish a modern system of licensing commercial public bus passenger services. It sought to promote regulated competition in licensed bus passenger services nationally and sought to promote integrated, well-functioning and cost-efficient public transport service. The legislation allowed for new contractual arrangements.
It introduced new contractual arrangements for procurement of public transport services on a national basis based on the same approach as the Dublin Transport Authority Act. It provided for the transfer of the Commission for Taxi Regulation to the Dublin Transport Authority, which is renamed the National Transport Authority, reflecting its increased national role.
The Act sets out arrangements under which the commercial services operated by the Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann and private operators are to be brought within the scope of the new licensing system.
New Licensing Regime
The Act established a new licensing regime for commercial, public bus services. It applies to all services, including those provided by the Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus. It sets out modernised criteria with reference to which licence applications are considered. It updates the penalty.
National public bus services other than those subject to a public transport services contract or an international service may only be provided under a licence under the legislation. Providing a service without a licence constitutes an offence.
The Authority may specify different categories of bus passenger services for which licences are granted. They are to be valid for the period specified.
The Authority may prepare and publish guidelines in relation to the licensing process and regime. The guidelines and any amendments to them are subject to consultation with the Minister, the competition Authority and the public generally.
Application for Licence
The Authority determines the form of application, required information, and supporting documents. The fact is to be taken into account in considering licence applications are specified. The licences are considered to have regard to the general functions of the Authority.
In the case of all applications, the demand or potential demand for the proposed service having regard to the needs of consumers must be considered. There are other strategic provisions to which the Authority may have regard in relation to applications for the various particular categories of licence.
This includes the impact the service would have on existing public service transport services in the vicinity of a route that are subject to public transport services contracts under the Dublin Transport Authority Act. The Authority must also consider a number of other requirements.
The Authority may give guidance in relation to consideration of its applications through guidelines drawn up by the Authority. The Authority must inform the applicant of the outcome of the licence application. It must give reasons for refusal of a grant of licence.
The Authority may offer a licence in respect of all licences or in respect of certain categories of licences. This is to facilitate applicants in a likely indication as to its proposed granting of licence so that the licence applicant can organise his expectations, etc., accordingly.
The Authority determines fees chargeable which are used to pay the expenses of the Authority.
Conditions may be applied to the licence or to any amendment or renewal of it. The legislation sets out specific categories of matters which may be provided for in conditions including ticketing, number of vehicles, accessibility, and emission standards.
The Authority may require a licence holder to provide and publish a timetable for the licensed service. It may require details of a licence to be displayed in a vehicle providing the services.
The Authority itself may publish timetables. The Authority may impose different conditions on different categories of licence. Noncompliance with the terms of a licence is an offence.
A public bus service must generally be in operation within four months of the date the licence is granted. The Authority may extend time. Otherwise, the licence may be revoked.
There is a provision for the renewal of licences. There is a provision for the continuation of the licence in the event of the death of a licence holder. There are provisions where the Authority may permit the transfer of a licence to a third party.
Legislation sets out circumstances in which an Authority may revoke a licence. Revocation takes place when the licence is not being used in that the service is not being provided.
The Authority may designate officers who determine applications for licences and their revocation. There is a provision for appeals against licensing decisions and their revocation.
Officers are appointed for the purpose of dealing with appeals by the Chief Executive Officer. Where the applicant is dissatisfied with the results of the appeal, he may appeal to the Circuit Court.
Offences under the legislation may be prosecuted by the Authority or by a member from Garda Síochána. Offences may be committed by corporate bodies. On summary conviction, the offence may be subject to a fine of up to €5000.
The Authority must conduct a review of the licensing regime every five years or at the request of the Minister.
The Authority is given a role in relation to the preparation of regional planning guidelines outside the Greater Dublin area, equivalent to that given in the Greater Dublin area under the Dublin Transport Authority Act.
All regional authorities are obliged to consult with the Authority when preparing regional planning guidelines for their areas. The guidelines are to include a statement of action to be taken to ensure effective integration of transport and land use planning.
The Minister is given powers to issue directions to regional authorities to review their draft for each planning guideline. It is also to provide effective integration of transport and land use planning. The legislation deals with an EU requirement in relation to the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of the same and safety certification.
Bus Priority Measures
The powers of local road authorities to provide bus priority measures and cycle facilities are clarified. A step-in power is provided to the Authority. Bus priority measures are exempted from regulations applicable to local Authority development under the Planning Acts.
Bus priority measures are delivered under road traffic legislation as an executive function of the Council. There is an exception in respect of measures involving road widening. This section seeks to provide a quicker, efficient, and more efficient method of providing bus priority measures.