Varadkar rules out new road tolls or charges

Minister says public transport will have to be improved before transport carbon charges

New road tolls and congestion charges have been ruled out during the life-time of this Government by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar.

Commenting on a Department of Transport paper entitled ‘Climate Change Mitigation’, Mr Varadkar said public transport would have to be significantly improved before motorists could face new fiscal incentives to force them from their cars.

The Climate Change Mitigation paper quoted EU research which showed Ireland had the second highest car usage rate among member states.

The data indicated 68 per cent of people drive every day, with just 8 per cent of claiming to be daily public transport users.


While Mr Varadkar said the long-term, new policies may have to be developed to incentivise people to move from cars to public transport, this would not happen immediately.

He said there would be no new tolls or congestion charges while he remained Minister for Transport.

“Taxing people out of their cars at this stage would not work. Public transport in our cities does not have sufficient capacity to deal with a big shift from cars to buses and trains” he said.

“ We need major improvements for public transport before we bring in any new taxes on motorists. Places like London, Oslo and Singapore have congestion charges but they put in place top class public transport first.

“That is the right way to do it in my view but the current state of the public finances means we have limited resources to invest in public transport,” he said.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist