Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed) - Priority Questions
Shane Ross (Dublin Rathdown, Independent) | Oireachtas source
I thank Deputy Ryan for his question on this issue which I know he is particularly interested in. As the Deputy is aware, Smarter Travel: a New Transport Policy for Ireland 2009-2020, was launched in January 2009. The targets set out in that policy were broad and ambitious. As it turns out, they were over-ambitious. The goal of the policy was to reduce private car use by increasing the number of people who walk, cycle or use public transport. Implementation of the policy was to result in reduced congestion and contribute to Ireland's international obligations to reduce carbon and other emissions and contribute to improving public health and quality of life.
The targets set out in the smarter travel policy were predicated on significant investment of €4.5 billion. This was in addition to the then approved Transport 21 investment programme. As the Deputy is aware, owing to the economic and fiscal crises, there was a significant and necessary scaling back of investment, with many projects in the transport area cancelled or deferred, and it has not been possible to direct the funding originally anticipated towards implementing the 49 actions contained in the smarter travel policy. I regret that. Nevertheless, the overarching goals contained in smarter travel remain the cornerstone of our transport policy. This is recognised and reflected in the Programme for Partnership Government in which we commit to ensuring that the €3.6 billion investment in the public transport system provided for in the capital plan will uphold the principles of the smarter travel policy. The capital plan also specifically commits €100 million in funding for smarter travel and carbon reduction measures.
Progress has been made and continues to be made in encouraging people to use public transport and more sustainable forms of transport. For example, we have seen a significant increase in cycling in Dublin with steady year-on-year growth, with an increase of more than 125% between 2006 and 2015. My Department has invested in a number of programmes and initiatives such as the smarter travel demonstration projects, active travel towns and national cycle network programme and the public bikes schemes.