Over 3,000 learner drivers in the North East are waiting for a test in in the NDLS test centre in Dundalk, according to new figures furnished to Sinn Féin TD Ruairi O Murchu.
The Dundalk-based Deputy has called on Minister for Transport and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan to take decisive action to tackle the huge waiting list in the county, which reflects an extraordinary backlog nationwide.
In a response to a parliamentary question posed by the party’s spokesperson on transport Darren O’Rourke, the RSA confirmed there are a total of 3,009 people awaiting a test in Dundalk – while 93,791 learner drivers nationwide are waiting for a test.
The Covid-19 lockdowns have led to an ever-increasing backlog of tests. Only centres in Tallaght, Raheny, Navan, Naas, Mulhuddart, Finglas, Cork (Wilton) and Dun Laoghaire/Deansgrange have longer waiting lists. There are currently 52 driving test centres operational in Ireland.
“The RSA has confirmed to Deputy O’Rourke that there are now 93,791 people waiting for a driving test, with some constituents telling me they will be forced to wait well into 2021 for a test date,” Deputy O Murchu said.
“This issue has been deteriorating all year. Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has failed to take decisive action to tackle the growing backlog. In fact, the number of people waiting for a test has increased by 70% since June of this year.
He added: “With public transport down to 25% capacity and sharing of lifts now not feasible due to Covid-19, this is causing massive problems for people who need a licence to get to work. It’s a huge issue for people in rural Ireland, where public transport simply isn’t an option.
“The problem is particularly bad in our own county, with 1,740 learner drivers waiting just to get an appointment for a test in the centre in Dundalk. In addition, the driver theory test has been suspended until early December, causing further delays
for those needing to learn to drive.”
1,740 people are awaiting an appointment at the Dundalk centre, while 561 are scheduled for a test that is yet to take place.
The long awaited new RSA test centre for Drogheda is to be located at Mell on the north side of the town. In August, the RSA’s Director of Finance and Commercial Services confirmed that the planning application for the new centre in Drogheda had been submitted.
“There is a clear need for additional driving instructors and testers. Likewise, longer opening hours and weekend tests would go some way to address the lengthening backlog. The Minister needs to urgently consult with instructors, testers and their unions to find a way forward to accelerate the number of tests that can be carried out safely over the coming months,” the Deputy concluded.