Two-thirds back charges to help ease gridlock on our urban roads
Motorists would be prepared to support the introduction of a congestion charge to limit the number of cars in town and city centres, a survey of 10,000 people across 10 European countries has found.
Two-thirds of Irish people said that the introduction of tolls was justified to reduce car use in built-up areas, and that they were also willing to pay tolls to fund new infrastructure.
The first European Mobilities Observatory survey, completed by Ipsos/BCG, found we are forced to rely on our cars to access work, school and leisure activities because poor planning has left large parts of the country without a proper public transport network.
Irish people spend four hours and 19 minutes driving a week, according to the survey - the highest of all countries surveyed. But some 44pc said they were forced into the car because public transport services were not available near their homes, compared with 35pc across Europe.
They also said there was not enough investment in public transport - most (70pc) would be willing to switch from the car if a decent service was offered.
The survey covered 10 countries - France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Poland, Slovakia, Portugal and Ireland.
Irish respondents said that among the main issues impacting on their quality of life was the quality of transport infrastructure.
While most were happy with the state of the roads and rail network, they said more investment was needed in services, including provision of more stops near homes.
One in three (29pc) said they lived too far away from "everything", and were annoyed about congestion levels.
Some 84pc said they would welcome more park and ride sites, allowing them to complete journeys on public transport.
Another 78pc said they would be in favour of car-pooling lanes.
Managing director of Ipsos/MRBI Damian Loscher said the study allowed for international comparisons to be made.
"We are more likely to use road relative to public transport. We're not big into rail commuting, which marks us out from our European neighbours," he said.
"Some 96pc would commute or move by road every week. We are similar to the rest of Europe in many and most respects, and we're very happy with our motorway network, happier than other countries. It's difficult to say if it's because they're new, but that's a positive.
"If we look at improvements, the one where we stand out is in stops and rest areas.
"There's an appetite for those, which makes sense. There is an appetite for investment in public transport. They also want investment in roads."
The survey also suggested that people want investment in public transport to eliminate or reduce congestion.
Some 90pc want more investment in new road-based public transport routes, meaning buses or trams, to provide an alternative to the private car.
Some 71pc said it was "important or critically important" that car-pooling or car-sharing lanes were introduced, compared with 70pc in other countries, and 83pc said they wanted digital services to provide information about routes to take and possible transport options.
"We're still quite a rural country and at some level need cars," Mr Loscher added. "People's priorities is to see what they have made better. I think the research shows that people are open to change.
"Sometimes, it only takes a small change for people to make a massive shift. It just has to be better than the alternative."