Monday, March 06, 2023

Michael Bolton

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has denied trying to “blame or shame anyone” for using their car, but admitted the public does have to cut down car travel.

Mr Ryan’s comments come as he plans to bring a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday, which will focus on ways to bring down car usage.

The introduction of a congestion charge is among the measures under consideration.

The Green Party leader has called on people to switch to more sustainable travel alternatives in order to reduce traffic congestion.

“We need to change. We need to reduce our demand for traffic, and we need to switch to more sustainable alternatives,” said Mr Ryan.

“In my mind, the real priority is being allocated space, so it’s safe to walk and cycle, and that the bus goes quicker.

“We need to make that switch in a way that’s not blaming or shaming anyone.”

Mr Ryan also said congestion charges will not be the “first response” to reducing the number of cars driving through cities.

Should they be introduced, congestion charges would be the first of a number of actions.

“It’s reallocating space so that the system works better for everyone, and everyone includes those people in cars, not to be blaming or shaming them.

“It doesn’t make sense for anyone when everyone is stuck in traffic. Reducing the traffic, increasing bus passengers, increasing the number of people walking and cycling, that’s good for people in cars because they are not just behind another car, they are freed up.”

However, according to a transport expert, any congestion charge is unlikely to be introduced within the next three to five years.

Brian Caulfield, an associate professor of engineering at Trinity College Dublin, said it was highly unlikely a congestion charge will be introduced any time soon.

“I don’t think that it’s something likely to happen with the next three, four maybe five years. We need better public transport and people need cars to get into the city centre.

“There’s been no flick of the switch congestion charge introduced anywhere in the planet, so it will take time and dialogue.”

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