Monday 26 January 2009

All transport agencies should be merged, says roads

The boards of the state's transport agencies should be abolished to make savings and replaced with a new national transport authority, the chairman of the National Roads Authority has urged.

He said a new agency with overall responsibility for roads, rail, bus, ports and airports should be established to streamline transport planning, and now was the "ideal time" to do it, given the pressure on the public finances.

NRA chief Peter Malone has also urged the Government to continue to invest in roads infrastructure to help Ireland regain competitiveness and attract inward investment.

Speaking to The Irish Independent, he said that continued investment would help secure jobs - adding that businesses would be reluctant to locate here if the roads system was not up to international standards.

While almost 2,000km of road had been upgraded in recent years, another 3,000km needed to be done.

"If I was in Government, I'd find money to finish the infrastructure. Now's the time - when things are difficult - to spend money on the infrastructure. We're going to come out of the recession and we need the roads. We need to think about next year and the year after."

In addition, he said that, while the various state agencies worked together to plan major transport projects, a 'one-stop shop' was needed. "The state of Massachusetts is roughly the same size as Ireland with twice the population, but with one transport authority, which includes the airports" - he said. "Do away with all the companies - all the boards are gone, so there's savings there.

"There would be managers for rail, bus, airports and so on. Now, when things are so bad, is an ideal time to do this."

Department of Transport sources said the Dublin Transportation Authority, when established later this year, could have a national focus. "Our main focus at the moment is getting the structures up and in place" - one source said. "The Minister is not adverse to it."

Irish Independent

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