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In a small country, one large city has foolishly been left to sprawl

Colm McCarthy


As the politicians talk, it cannot be stressed too often that most public transport in Ireland travels on roads

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'The capital programme contains ambitious transport projects, not all of which will get off the drawing board and priorities will have to be identified.'

'The capital programme contains ambitious transport projects, not all of which will get off the drawing board and priorities will have to be identified.'

Gabriela Insuratelu

'The capital programme contains ambitious transport projects, not all of which will get off the drawing board and priorities will have to be identified.'

Buses are public transport vehicles, with rubber wheels. Trains and trams are also public transport vehicles, with steel wheels. To address congestion in cities and excess carbon emissions everywhere, policy seeks to encourage people towards public transport. Whether rubber or steel is the best option is a critical question, to do with costs and benefits, engineering and economics.

This week, transport issues, including some choices between rubber and steel, fall to be considered by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael as they negotiate on Green Party demands. If a programme for government emerges, on past form it will assume scriptural authority for politicians and public officials, always predisposed to deliver on whatever commitments these documents contain, until reality intrudes.

Reality will intrude soon. Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe insisted last week that the emerging budget deficit is not sustainable, and the Taoiseach has echoed his concerns. Interest rates will rise and selling bonds will get tougher, especially for those trying to sell too many.