Thursday 27 October 2016

Commuters reject public transport for comfort of own cars

Published 06/07/2015 | 02:30

Paschal Donohoe
Paschal Donohoe

Commuters are rejecting public transport options in favour of the car as the economic recovery takes hold and people return to work.

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A report from the Department of Transport says thatand that people are refusing to walk or cycle even short distances.

And it also warns that investment in our road and public transport network is running €300m below the level needed just to maintain the system 'as is'.

A lack of investment will hamper efforts to sustain economic growth and drive regional development, while the increase in car trips is resulting in congestion levels rising in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

The report presents a major challenge to Government to avoid a repeat of the boom years when our cities ground to a halt and emissions from transport rose, affecting air quality and limiting our ability to tackle climate change.

Despite a concerted effort in recent years to encourage use of public transport, including the introduction of real-time passenger information, free wi-fi on the fleet and Leap cards, commuters are simply refusing to make the switch.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said the use of the private car, especially for short trips, was "concerning", and that more investment was needed.

Read more: Walking and cycling isn't just some green, hippy, sandal-wearing lifestyle

"Despite the fact that ownership is below the European average, we still remain firmly attached to the car," he said.

"The significant increase in the numbers going back to work is understandably contributing to this. However, evidence of cars being used even for very short journeys of 2km or less is concerning.

"That's why our focus remains on encouraging people to use city bike-share schemes where they are in place and other public transport options. Transport plays a significant role in the development of our economy and the need for investment now is greater than ever."

The 'Transport Trends: An Overview of Ireland's Transport Sector' report, which was published by the department's economic and financial evaluation unit, sets out how the network is operating.

It says there has been a growth in the number of kilometres being travelled on the network between 2011 and 2013, with some 32 billion kilometres travelled by 1.9 million private cars, a rise of 1.2pc.

It says that 75pc of all journeys are made by car, while bus accounts for 3.8pc and rail/Dart/Luas represents another 1.5pc. Walking accounts for 15.4pc of all journeys, while cycling stands at 1.3pc.

Read more: How we travel: Department of Transport report

There has been a major fall in the number of secondary school pupils using the bike - down 41pc - and there appears to be a rise in single-occupant vehicles.

"Reliance on the car for travel is stronger in areas outside Dublin (77pc) than in Dublin (61pc), with public transport and sustainable modes utilised more in the capital," it says.

"Some 75pc of all journeys in 2013 were taken by car. This is a slight increase on 2009 and there has also been a shift from car passenger trips to car driver trips, indicating a potential increase in sole car use.

"The main areas experiencing a decreased level of service due to congestion are those around primary urban areas such as Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Cork."

Congestion also results in economic losses, hampering the ability of hauliers to make deliveries. Almost 75,000 new cars have been licensed this year, a rise of nearly 27pc on 2014.

Irish Independent

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