SPENDING on public transport and roads will have to increase by at least €300m a year just to keep them in good working order and avoid expensive repairs.
A report on future investment in land transport infrastructure warns that €1.3bn in direct exchequer funding is needed, but that just over €1bn is currently being provided.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said a "key priority" for 2015 was increasing the spend and growing investment. He said both society and the economy needed to tackle congestion and provide transport alternatives to the car, which would help develop "well-planned communities".
Some €952m is in the overall capital budget for 2015, the minister told the Irish Independent, with €598m allocated for land transport. But more money is needed.
"In relation to investment, we have a gap we need to close (so) we will ensure we will have transport infrastructure in the future which will lead to growth," the minister said.
"We are under-investing. The challenge is to grow our investment programme to maintain what we have. While we have made important progress this year, I believe we will have to have the capital budget for this department exceeding €1bn year after year.
"If investment goes down for a period of time, your future investment needs to go up. We will have to smooth that out. If we don't do that, we're into the territory of revised speed limits for particular roads but I'm confident we won't have to get into that."
The 'Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport' (SFILT) report says that steady-state funding - or the amount needed to maintain, manage and renew the existing assets to keep them in good working order - is estimated at €1.6bn a year. Some €300m a year is generated in tolls and public transport fares, leaving a shortfall of €1.3bn.
Significant investment in the coming years includes new buses and a mass-transit transport solution for Dublin. The local and regional road network also required "severe upgrades", the minister added.