FG sets out Budget plan to ease traffic


Fine Gael has called for the taxation of company car-parking as a benefit in kind, an increased subsidy to CIE to buy buses to reduce traffic congestion.

The party chose yesterday, the day schools reopened, to publish proposals it wants included in the December Budget.

"From today, gridlock will descend again on an area extending within a 30-mile radius of Dublin," the party leader, Mr John Bruton, told a press conference in Dublin.

"Dublin-generated traffic jams are now occurring in places as far from O'Connell Street as the villages of Ashbourne and Dun shaughlin," he said. "It can take half an hour to get a car through the half-mile from one end of Ashbourne village to the other at the morning peak. Traffic build-up is severe in Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Kildare, Galway and many other centres."

Mr Bruton said that nearly one-third of households did not have a car, yet public transport was not generously subsidised.

"For example, the average State subsidy to Dublin Bus is now one-third of what it was in 1987 in real terms," he said. "Government subsidies cover 6 per cent of Dublin transport costs, as against 50 per cent of the cost of services in Athens, 58 per cent in Paris and 15 per cent in London."

While 21 per cent VAT was being charged on a new bus, he added, tax breaks were given for city-centre car-parks, and the use of a car by businesses and civil servants was given preference in the tax code over the use of buses and trains.

The Fine Gael leader proposed the following measures for inclusion in the next Budget:

* tax changes to encourage bus use and discourage private car use;

* the reduction of VAT on new buses from 21 per cent to 5 per cent;

* allocating £10 million more to extend the quality bus corridor network by the end of 1999;

* abolishing tax relief for the provision of city-centre car-parks and giving such * relief instead to park-and-ride facilities in the suburbs;

* allocating £30 million to local authorities and the Dublin Transportation Authority to subsidise the provision of services on new bus routes to be allocated on a competitive tender basis between CIE and private bus operators.

* allocating additional subvention to CIE for new buses.