Oireachtas Committee explore ways to boost regional and rural transport

Oireachtas Committee explore ways to boost regional and rural transport

8th November 2018 Off By Chloe Sullivan

On Tuesday 23rd October 2018, government officials met to discuss ways of improving rural and regional transport links.

With the development of SmartVillages, FDI and Tech start-ups spreading to areas outside central hubs, we ought to develop our transport routes to improve the mobility of workers. Otherwise, the lack of efficient transport routes will deter workers from seeking jobs outside cities like Dublin, Cork and Belfast.

Speaking at the committee meeting, Chairman TD Joe Carey shared his thoughts on the theory,

“The Committee’s vision is of a better connected Ireland where citizens and businesses can rely on public transport options as the preferred means for reaching their daily destinations and distributing goods nationwide. The Committee hopes to identify and advance ideas for aiding communities that currently are dependent on private vehicles to get from A to B,” he said. “Members also seek to stimulate fresh thinking on the ways that heavy rail services could create new commercial opportunities for enterprises across Ireland.”

Dublin vs Amsterdam

In 2016, a total of 205.6 million passengers were carried on scheduled bus services around Ireland, 34.0 million passengers travelled on the Luas and 42.8 million passengers travelled by rail in 2016. This is a step in the right direction but we still face bumper to bumper traffic jams, delayed buses, trains and commuters having to take multiple buses and trains to get to their destination. There are not enough interconnecting routes within our transport system, nor do we have the infrastructure in rural areas to facilitate improved mobility of workers.

In an ideal scenario, we would be able to compare our transport networks to that of Amsterdam, where the majority of people happily cycle, walk, take a tram or bus it to work. There are more bikes than cars in the city, little or no traffic jams and it is evident that commuters are content in their ability to get from A to B. This is an incredible feat considering the population of Amsterdam alone is approximately 833,624. It is suggested that in the 1980’s, Dutch politicians became aware of the many advantages of cycling, and their transport policies gradually shifted. Perhaps the car wasn’t the mode of transport of the future after all. Dutch towns and cities began introducing measures to make their streets more cycle- friendly. Initially, their aims were far from ambitious and the idea was simply to keep cyclists on their bikes. Et voila! The Netherlands now boasts 22,000 miles of cycle lanes and over 234 trips made in 2016 by travelers using their combined transport provider, GVB.

We are improving our modes of transportation but we have a long way to go yet and we call on the support of the government to dedicate time and effort towards creating a strategic, logical plan for the rural and regional development plan. In addition to the governments spending on infrastructure, we ought to welcome these advancements and make a united shift towards utilising public transport networks and cycle lanes to reduce traffic times, carbon emissions and to encourage the government to further invest in our transport lines.

Key ideas of the Oireachtas committee meeting

  • Boosting road and public transport connectivity and options for the west of Ireland;
  • Strategies for stimulating demand for new public transport services;
  • Improving commuter links between smaller towns and key destinations, including universities, hospitals and major employers;
  • Easing regulatory and insurance challenges for community taxi services;
  • Recent cutbacks in rail freight services and opportunities to build Ireland’s heavy rail traffic and capacity
  • Proposals to open a rail line linking Dublin Airport with Clongriffin in northeast Dublin

As SmartWorkers, we look forward to the transformation of the rural networks. We strive to reduce the commute but with more efficient modes of transport, our ability to travel between Zoom meetings and client calls will improve dramatically. The Future of Work is all about reconsidering how we approach work in the most organised, effective way to increase productivity- including our mobility.

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