Congestion charges needed to reduce car use in central Dublin, academic says

Conference told 1,000 large apartments could be built in space dedicted to parking in city

Cars need to be treated like plastic bags with levies put on their use in Dublin city, a Trinity College Dublin (TCD) conference has heard.

Congestion charges will have to be introduced in Dublin to make high cost public transport projects such as Metro and Dart Underground viable, environment and transport academic Prof Brian Caulfield said.

“When we build this public transport, and we’re spending billions on these public transport projects, we will have to charge people who still want to come into the city in a car,” he told the Dublin of the Future conference.

“It is the carrot and stick that’s required. We do need to put in the big public transport projects and then we need to use road pricing, we need to use congestion charges, to get people out of their cars. We have seen this work with the plastic bag levy, when you charge people for something, you can change behaviour.”


Even with the current levels of public transport provision and recent small scale improvements in cycling infrastructure, car users had dropped from 38 per cent to 27 per cent of Dublin city commuters over the last decade, he said.

“The people have voted with their feet. There is an 11 per cent drop in people coming into the city by car, but there is much more than 27 per cent of the city given over to the car. In Dublin especially we don’t have the space for everyone to take cars into the city centre.”


The amount of space used for private car parks in the city needed to be substantially reduced, he said. “We would get about 1,000 90sqm two-bedroom apartments if we were to take private car parking space out of the city.”

Deputy mayor of Paris Christophe Najdovski told the conference the Champs Elysees was being turned into an "extraordinary garden" with plans to halve car space and plant 360 trees on the street by 2030.

This was part of an overall strategy to transform the city by “greening it” he said.

“We have the ambition of greening the streets, removing the car lanes and planting trees. We want to give back the nature that was taken by cars.”

Parisians were overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the changes, he said.

“Just one third of Parisians own a car; they don’t want to have a car in the streets because they don’t own a car.”

Policies to deter city parking were vital, he said. “If you have more and more space for cars, you will have more and more use of the car.”

Lauren Tuite, who is working to improve walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure in Inchicore, said there needed to be radical improvements in the way people were consulted on public infrastructure.

“Dublin will be a great city again when a diverse array of people feel they can participate in the life of the city,” she said.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times