Companies look to beat gridlock


Companies in Dublin are lookconsidering relocating their businesses in a bid to beat the capital's gridlock, according to a survey of 580 firms by employers' group IBEC. Traffic congestion is seriously affecting delivery scheduling and road haulage costs as well as staff costs,the survey found.

Thirty-eight per cent of companies in Dublin are considering relocating to less-congested centres in the State, according to the survey.

Some 85 per cent of companies nationally and 91 per cent in Dublin say traffic is having an adverse impact on their business. Eighty-seven per cent indicate that congestion is affecting deliveries and haulage costs and 71 per cent say traffic congestion is causing staff punctuality problems.

Other staffing issues include labour costs, recruitment, staff turnover and absenteeism - in all cases at considerably higher levels in Dublin than elsewhere. In the capital , 94 per cent of companies cited staff punctuality as a casualty of traffic problems, compared with 68 per cent elsewhere. Asked about strategies to combat the problem, 61 per cent favour more flexible working arrangements for staff, while 40 per cent favour encouraging staff to use public transport. A similar number favour contracting out distribution.

Mr Reg McCabe, IBEC's transport director, said: "These results confirm the view that relieving traffic congestion throughout the country, and particularly in Dublin, needs to go to the top of the political agenda.

The business community has lost confidence in piecemeal solutions such as those advocated by Dublin City Council. Neither is there much confidence in the long-term public transport approach which endlessly promises but invariably fails to deliver."

IBEC is proposing a five-point action plan to the Government. This involves the establishment of a mobile, well-resourced national traffic corps to resolve congestion problems by direct intervention. It says IT systems must be introduced to provide drivers with real-time information on traffic flows, congestion points and alternative routings. School and college times must be staggered to reduce congestion at peak times.

The confederation challenges the prevailing traffic management orthodoxy in Dublin and says new routes, including an artery linking Ringsend and the west of the city, must be considered; planning for the eastern bypass must be brought forward as a matter of urgency.

Other major towns should implement traffic-management plans which limit on-street parking, and managed parking facilities must be provided, according to IBEC.