Congestion charges would be seen as “hitting people with another tax” and reallocating space in city centres is a fairer approach, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said.
Minister Ryan made the comments in an opinion article he wrote for The Irish Tines covering the publication of the finalised Greater Dublin Area (GDA) Transport Strategy. The plan was developed by the National Transport Authority and has just been signed off on by the Minister.
He said there are large challenges ahead for active travel and public transport, but that the Greater Dublin Area Transport Strategy was “crucial groundwork”.
He referred to the plan, which is in development, to to rapidly reallocate space in Dublin City Centre to boost walking, cycling, and public transport, which IrishCycle.com first covered last week.
He also disagreed with comments about cycling made recently in the same newspaper by economist and newspaper columnist John FitzGerald — Minister Ryan said Dublin is relatively flat, dry and most trips are still quite short, so, there’s no reason why more people won’t cycle when cycle routes are built.
Minister Ryan said: “I read with interest the advice of Professor John FitzGerald in this paper two weeks ago that we should use pricing mechanisms – like congestion charges – to delver this modal shift. I fear such an approach would require such a high price it would not be accepted by the vast majority of people. Besides, in my view, it is much fairer to put the alternatives in place first. It is better to regulate traffic by the reallocation of road space rather than just hitting people with another tax.”
“Towards this, and because it takes some ten years to get a bus corridor through our policy, planning and construction process, we need to accelerate the introduction of bus-priority measures, including experimental bus gates, new one-way routes and using road space reallocation to make sure all our buses run on time and to ensure that we have safe, segregated space for walking and cycling,” he said.
Minister Ryan wrote: “John also suggests that the numbers of people who might cycle, even in such safe conditions, is limited. Again, I disagree. I see no reason why Dublin should not be like Copenhagen or Amsterdam. We are a flat, relatively dry city where most trips are still quite short, coupled with a real tradition of cycling.”
On the wider issue of the GDA Transport Strategy Minister, Ryan added: “Now it’s all about delivery -– every day, every month, every year -– so that people have the real transport choices they need to consign congestion to our past. So that we cut our emissions and create a capital city we can all be proud of.”