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06th Mar 2023

AA Ireland calls for the introduction of a free public transport trial

Katy Thornton

As the Government reportedly explores options to reduce private car usage, AA Ireland has suggested a radical move.

AA Ireland has called upon the Government to introduce a free public transport and shared bikes trial across Ireland.

The automotive services company said that such moves should be implemented for a “dedicated period” before the Government announces “any further penalties to motorists”.

AA Ireland’s comments come following reports indicating that Transport Minister Eamon Ryan is set to announce further proposed measures to get drivers out of cars and onto other modes of transport.

The Irish Times states that Ryan is expected to bring a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday (7 March) that will feature an annex to the Government’s Climate Action Plan, laying out how and when climate objectives can be achieved.

According to the paper, modelling work has been done, detailing how Ireland could reduce private car usage. Options reportedly considered include cheaper public transport, congestion charges, fuel price increases, higher car parking charges and the pedestrianisation of urban centres.

However, AA Ireland has proposed another alternative measure, with its Head of Communications Paddy Comyn saying in a statement:

“We know that there must be a push to other modes of transport in order to meet climate targets. Many people will say there is no public transport solution available to them, or that the frequency isn’t there, so why not trial a well-signalled free public transport period, be it a week or a month, in order to thoroughly test the impact of moving en-masse to alternative modes.

“This will allow us to test capacity and a genuine appetite for alternative modes of transport. If public transportation is offered for free, but the uptake remains poor, then more punitive measures could be considered.”

The AA believes that a free public transport trial will only work if it is well-signalled in advance and has the full support of employers, who may have to allow workers more time for their commute.

On top of this, the automotive services company said it was important that accurate measures are taken regarding differences in air quality and the ability of busier routes to cope. It also suggested that the trial should take place at a busy time of year, like September, when traffic volumes are among their busiest.

The AA added that such a trial would highlight any underprovision or deficiencies of public transport in rural areas.

Comyn explained further: “The announcement of further punitive measures is going to spook already stretched Irish citizens. If we want to really test the alternatives, then make them free for a trial period.

“Cycling and walking are already free but clearly don’t work for everyone. Let’s give Irish people a Government-backed opportunity to trial alternatives. If it’s successful, then there can be greater incentives to use them. If it isn’t then and only then, should further punitive measures be used.”

This article originally appeared on JOE

Header image via Shutterstock

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