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General Election 2020: Where do the main parties stand on motoring and transport issues?

From banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars to supporting cycling infrastructure, here are some of the key options the main parties are offering the motorist, commuters and public transport users, writes Geraldine Herbert

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Fully charged: Increasing usage of electric vehicles figures heavily in all party manifestos

Fully charged: Increasing usage of electric vehicles figures heavily in all party manifestos

Fully charged: Increasing usage of electric vehicles figures heavily in all party manifestos

With the Irish electorate going to the polls next Saturday, the results could have a major impact on motorists and commuters. The main parties have all unveiled policies that are significant to car owners including pledges to support bus connects in Dublin and the transition to zero-emission transport and to cut carbon emissions. These are the main motoring and transport-related policies in the manifestos of the six main parties that have candidates standing across the country.

Fine Gael

A future to look forward to

Fine Gael's 2020 manifesto promises to fully implement the Climate Action Plan including plans to phase out the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars from 2030.

Increase by fifty times the current level of electric vehicles uptake which would see a reduction in their target of one million electric cars to 750,000.

500,000 more commutes to work and education are taken by public transport, cycling and walking by 2035.

In five years Fine Gael plan to "revolutionise" public transport in Dublin by completing the Bus Connects programme and ensuring that Metro Link proceeds to construction.

Projects such as the extension of the Luas to Finglas along with extensions to Poolbeg, Bray and Lucan and the rail link into Navan will all be considered along with a promise to explore the feasibility of extending Metro Link to other locations including UCD, south-west Dublin; extending the Luas network to Hazelhatch and Booterstown.

Deliver the Bus Connects programmes planned for Dublin, Cork and Galway, which will include dedicated bus corridors, increased capacity, segregation of cycle ways and new stops.

Increase the numbers cycling and commit €600 million in carbon tax revenue to this end.

Review the current motor taxation regime, to ensure that it adequately captures the harm caused by NOx (nitrogen oxide) and SOx (sulphur oxide) emissions. This will only apply to newly registered vehicles.

Invest in the EV charging infrastructure to ensure that at least one charging point is provided in non-residential buildings with 10 or more car spaces.

To consider a car scrappage scheme for drivers moving to zero-emission vehicles while not unnecessarily subsidising purchases that would happen anyway.

 

Fianna Fail

An Ireland for all

Fianna Fail has launched proposals for a high quality road network, more affordable public transport and improved infrastructure for cyclists.

They will aim for a complete removal of fossil fuel cars by 2035 and will ban diesel cars from Irish cities from 2030.

They are pledging to implement a series of measures to promote Electric Car usage levels including plans to accelerate the roll out of fast charge points.

Other incentives include continuing the SEAI grants to boost E-car sales, waive VRT for E-cars, implement free charge points for E-cars, ensure 25% of the car fleet purchased by the state should be EVs.

More roads are also in the pipeline and Michael Martin's party also says that, if it wins power, they will build the M20 from Cork to Limerick and the A5 between Derry and Donegal within 5 years.

The party also commits to expand safe, segregated cycling infrastructure.

They also will create a new €1m pot of money to help schools provide elements of driving training through schools starting with a pilot project in selected rural schools.

 

Green Party

Towards 2030 A decade of change

The Green Party plan to Get Ireland moving by doubling investment in public transport, committing 10% of transport funds to cycling and 10% to walking, advocate for shared, public transport services over individual usage.

The party will also support the increase in electric powered vehicles and ensure EV incentives include electric bicycles, velomobiles and other innovative lightweight EVs.

Develop new e-mobility solutions including car-sharing, car pooling, ride sharing and municipal e-bike and e-scooter schemes would also be promoted.

The manifesto also pledges to increase the spend limit on the Bike to Work Scheme to provide adequate support for the purchase of e-bikes.

Maximise connectivity between and within different modes of transport by setting up more park and ride facilities and bike and ride facilities on routes into cities that are not adequately served by public transport.

 

Sinn Fein

Giving workers and families a break

Sinn Fein will not increase carbon taxes.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald also promises more certainty over the construction of the public charging infrastructure for electric cars.

The party says it wants to support the recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly to increase bus lanes, cycling routes, park and ride facilities and commits to developing a fully integrated public transport system and transition to electric vehicles.

 

Labour

Building an Equal Society

The Labour party state they will focus on policies to improve public transport and to reduce congestion and commuting times and they will increase the current transport budget funding for walking and cycling.

While accepting that the move to phase out diesel and petrol cars should happen as quickly as possible, especially in cities, as there are many car-dependent people, they will not ban them until real alternatives are available.

The party also believe Fine Gael's plans for a million electric cars by 2030 are fantasy, as they are far too expensive for most people and would introduce electric vehicle grants targeted especially at rural Ireland and people with disabilities who need to drive, but expect that people in urban areas would use public transport.

Other plans for rural Ireland include a promise to re-launch a simplified version of the Rural Hackney Scheme and provide subsidies for operators in rural areas, including local publicans.

Labour will implement graduated speed limits and 30km speed limits in areas where there is evidence that they are effective.

Bus Connects can be modified to take account of legitimate local concerns, while still delivering faster transport times

In order to reduce congestion, they would focus on flexible working times across the public and private sectors but have no immediate plans for congestion charging.

Labour supports underground trains, including the Metro and DART Underground routes, and would study the options of bringing the Metro to the South-West and bringing DART Underground to beyond Inchicore into west Dublin suburbs

 

Social Democrats

Invest in Better

Public Transport will be given greater priority in the National Development Plan. While the party supports all of the public transport measures contained in the National Development Plan (NDP) they plan to rebalance the portion of funding sets aside for Roads and Sustainable Mobility.

Ring-fence any windfall tax gains to fund the DART Underground project.

Invest substantially in additional public transport subsidies so that fares can be reduced.

Promote and invest in cycling as an alternative to the motor car.

Increase the funding for the Local Link Network from €21m to €100m and seek to improve this over time.

They will also oppose any attempt to privatise bus routes.

Safe walking and cycling paths around every school in the country will be a key priority.

Legislate for a strong Land Development Agency with appropriate powers of compulsory purchase and establish a review of all land issues as good land-use is an integral part of good transport planning and provision.

Create a new policing unit specifically for Public Transport.

The Social Democrats support the improvements envisaged in Bus Connects. Notwithstanding this, there are numerous issues that must be worked through with local communities and they pledge to ensure that this happens.

Sunday Independent