Fine Gael submits plan to tackle Dublin's traffic congestion


Fine Gael is proposing free off-peak bus travel, congestion charges and tax breaks for commuters using public transport as ways of tackling Dublin's traffic problems.

The party also wants employers levied for their 50,000 city-centre parking spaces provided free for workers and says commuters operating car pools should have access to bus lanes and priority parking.

The party's policy director, Mr Richard Bruton, said Dublin and adjoining counties lacked a coherent transport policy with responsibility split between four Government departments, seven local authorities, the Garda and a variety of other agencies.

In a submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Public Enterprise and Transport, Mr Bruton called for the setting up of a Dublin Transport Authority with sole responsibility for traffic-management, regulation of bus and rail services, development of infrastructure and law enforcement.

He said the authority should be funded by parking fees, tolls, congestion charges on peak-time private motorists and road-opening charges on telecommunication companies and 80 other utilities at work in the city. Further revenue and reduced congestion could result from charges on businesses receiving deliveries at peak times.

Mr Bruton said the development of a transport policy had lagged far behind the growth of Dublin's transport problems. The number of Dublin-registered private cars in use was nearing half a million but while morning travel journeys grew by 66 per cent between 1991-99, passengers using public transport grew by just 11 per cent between 1995 and 2001.

The average occupancy of cars entering the city meanwhile averaged just over 1.25 persons in each car and showed no sign of increasing. Mr Bruton said cars with at least four occupants should be allowed to share bus lanes and enjoy parking privileges.

He also proposed free bus travel between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., better park-and-ride facilities, integrated ticketing for bus and rail services and the opening up of 20 per cent of all bus routes to private operators.