Monday 9 February 2009

Smarter Travel - A Sustainable Transport Future

The Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, TD - accompanied by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Eamon Ryan, TD - have launched 'Smarter Travel - A Sustainable Transport Future'.

This is the Government’s action plan to bring sustainability to the centre of transport policy - by freeing our towns and cities from choking traffic congestion, slashing CO2 emissions and helping car-based commuters to leave their cars at home and to use other more sustainable forms of transport.

Minister Dempsey said - “Travel trends in Ireland are unsustainable. We can’t keep pouring cars onto our streets. Cities are grinding to a halt with choking traffic congestion and that can’t continue. This action plan that I am publishing today shows a different way and sets out how to get there. This is not simply a series of transport initiatives - it represents a radical transformation in transport policy that puts people, rather than vehicles, first. It has the potential to fundamentally change how we all travel.”

Minister Ryan added - “Today’s announcement is the beginning of a major change. It represents a fundamental reform of our transport systems. It is the first step in changing how we move and how we live. Our current transport patterns are unsustainable and make travel costly, time consuming and stressful.”

Smarter Travel - A Sustainable Transport Future sets out measures so that, by 2020, we can have thousands more people walking, cycling, using public transport and leaving their cars at home. With this action plan, the Government aims to change the transport mix in Ireland so that car share of total commutes drops from the current 65% to 45%.

This will involve new ways of approaching many aspects of policy-making in Ireland. It affects how we plan our schools and school curricula, influences where we develop residential areas and centres of employment in the future, opens up social and employment opportunities for people who experience reduced mobility and returns urban spaces to people rather than cars.

The 49 measures in Smarter Travel - A Sustainable Transport Future can be grouped under four key headings -

* Actions to reduce distance travelled by private car and encourage smarter travel, including focusing population and employment growth predominantly in larger urban areas
* Actions aimed at ensuring that alternatives to the car are more widely available, mainly through a radically improved and more accessible public transport service and through investment in cycling and walking
* Actions aimed at improving the fuel efficiency of motorised transport through improved fleet structure, energy efficient driving and alternative technologies - and
* Actions aimed at strengthening institutional arrangements to deliver the targets.

“This new policy framework approved by the Government will have long-term positive benefits for all our citizens. While changing travel behaviour will take time, these benefits - particularly the health, environmental and quality of life dividends - will accrue not only during the implementation phase of the proposals, but also beyond 2020. We are, today, setting out our clear policy decision to put people - and not cars - at the centre of our transport planning and delivery in future” - concluded Minister Dempsey.

Smarter Travel - A Sustainable Transport Future aims that, by 2020 we will -

* Move over 500,000 potential car-based commuters to other more sustainable forms of transport
* Slash CO2 emissions by at least 4 million tonnes
* Ensure that electric vehicles account for 10% of all vehicles on our roads
* Move over 150,000 people to work by bike
* Create regional e-working centres to help cut commuting times
* Create an all-island car sharing website
* Invest in new, safer cycling and walking routes - and
* Invest in more park-and-ride facilities on the outskirts of our major cities.

Key Initiatives in Smarter Travel - A Sustainable Transport Future -

* Future Government investment in public facilities to take account of the need to give priority to walking, cycling and public transport as primary means of access
* A focus on catering for future population and employment growth predominantly in sustainable urban areas
* Support for greater flexibility in work patterns and e-working, with the public sector acting as an exemplar
* Development of a strategy for the freight sector aimed at reducing environmental impact, while improving efficiency and competitiveness
* Redesign of urban bus services to achieve optimum use of the existing fleet and additional resources as necessary
* Scheduled bus services in significant centres of population and, for other areas, 7-day-a-week access to transport services
* The delivery of a National Cycle Policy Framework
* The development of a National Walking Policy with provision of safe pedestrian routes linked, where appropriate, with public transport services
* Support for car-sharing initiatives
* Delivery of integrated ticketing
* Fast-tracking of park-and-ride facilities
* Engagement at international level to ensure use of low polluting fuels in maritime operations
* Support for use of vehicles that do not rely on internal combustion engines (e.g. electric vehicles and hydrogen powered vehicles)
* 10% of car fleet to be electric by 2020
* Efficient driving to become part of the driving test
* Establishment of demonstration sustainable travel towns.

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