Sunday 11 November 2007

Dail to consider congestion charge for Dublin city

A new Dail committee on transport is considering a congestion charge for Dublin, as well as ‘‘aggressive’’ plans for park-and-ride schemes to increase bus use, and a national transport office.

The new committee met for the first time last week. Its chairman, Frank Fahey TD, said that reducing the number of cars in the country’s cities was a priority.

‘‘Applying a congestion charge might not be a popular approach, but it would force people to use public transport,” Fahey said.

The committee plans to invite a senior member of Transport for London - a local government body responsible for most aspects of the transport system throughout Greater London - to Dublin to give views on a congestion charge. Congestion charging was introduced in London in 2003, and is believed to have contributed to better traffic flow in the city.

‘‘We have to move away from the car culture that has developed here,” Fahey said.

‘‘The number of cars on Ireland’s roads increased by a staggering 86 per cent between 1995 and 2006, from 1.035 million to 2.3 million, and this is causing huge congestion and frustration.

‘‘I am proposing that a public debate on congestion starts in Dublin, and can be looked at then for other cities,” Fahey said.

The committee wants to establish more park-and-rides, and a separate body to license private buses, currently under the remit of the Department of Transport.

The transport committee has examined how park-and-ride facilities work in Chester and York, where sites have 2,000 or 3,000 spaces.

South Dublin County Council has a proposal for a park-and-ride facility which would have 500 car parking spaces. A daily charge of €4 to €5 would apply for parking and bus travel.

The committee will also be pushing for an independent agency to address each city’s transport needs. Road safety, air transport, the regulation of provisional drivers, accessibility to public transport and the need for replacement routes at Shannon Airport are some of the other priorities that will be addressed during the course of the committee’s term.

Sunday Business Post

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