Cars with four passengers should use bus lanes - AA's Conor Faughnan
Cars could be permitted to travel in Dublin's bus lanes if they met certain conditions, a leading expert has suggested.
Director of Consumer Affairs with AA Ireland Conor Faughnan said that traffic congestion in Dublin could be solved if planners opened their minds to the idea of opening the bus lanes to car pools.
"We have never done any experiments with multi-occupancy cars. That could be a worthwhile addition," he said.
"If you imagine that for particular selected suburbs if you had a scenario whereby an individual could apply for a permit, and if they met the conditions and they pay for their permit, they are issued with a sticker front and rear, and now if they have got four more people in the car they can use the bus lane.
"That could work. That worked quite well in parts of the United States and it certainly is worth a try in Ireland.
"Positive initiatives such as the Dublin Bike Scheme have reduced the need for car usage in the city centre. So there is plenty good that has happened."
However, he believes that public transport holds the key to tackling traffic congestion in Dublin.
Mr Faughnan pointed out that city centre traffic has become busier as the economy has improved.
"The city's economy has certainly picked up and there is evidence of that everywhere," Mr Faughnan said.
"Construction traffic is back on the road, deliveries, commercial vehicles are back on the road, and private cars are back on the road, it's palpable everywhere. So that is true right across Dublin city.
"In terms of tackling congestion, the long term strategy, and there is no substitute for this, is the provision of public transport.
"What makes Dublin different from other cities of comparable size is not traffic volumes, or car ownership, they are all quite comparable.
"What really sets Dublin apart is the availability of public transport.
"If you compare us to other cities of our size, Amsterdam, Munich, Copenhagen, Vienna, what you see is that in those cities typically about 80pc of commuters in the morning use public transport. Private car use hovers around 20pc or less or thereabouts.
"In Dublin, the split is worse than 50/50. It's slightly less than 50pc of all commuters use public transport. And this is with every public transport asset we possess stuffed full to the gills."
Until we address the public transport issues, we are always going to have a problem, he told the Herald.
"That might be a more long-term solution but between now and then there are probably intelligent things that can be done with road design, for example we need to provide more park and ride sites," he said.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe previously told the Herald that as part of his long-term vision for commuting in Dublin, there would be a requirement for several new park-and-ride facilities.
The National Transport Authority published figures which showed all State-supported transport operators saw passenger numbers grow last year.