Ireland’s “lofty climate ambitions” will be hard to achieve considering car usage has dropped by just 1% in a decade.
That’s according to Engineering Professor Brian Caulfield following the release of the latest National Transport Authority (NTA) survey.
The survey found 69% of Irish people still cite cars as their dominant form of transport, compared to 70% in 2012.
Prof Caulfield told Newstalk Breakfast Ireland is one of the worst countries in the EU when it comes to car dependency.
“One of the things that I think is the most disheartening of all of them is that car usage has just dropped by 1% in over a decade,” he said.
“We have a long way to go, especially with those big lofty climate change goals.”
The National Household Travel Survey shows a clear rural-urban divide, as 53% of Dubliners rely on their car compared to 80% of rural dwellers.
'Smart rural areas'
Prof Caulfield said “it’s very difficult” to get people in rural Ireland out of their cars to use other forms of transport, when those forms of transport don’t yet exist.
“You’ve probably heard of the term ‘smart cities’, but I think smart rural areas are one of the things that we need to look at,” he said.
“If you look over to Scotland, they've been very good at on-demand public transport services.”
However, Prof Caulfield also said it’s not as simply as creating a plan to let every rural person use a bus.
“If you look at it from an emissions perspective, trying to get all of those buses at a frequency that will be required to get people to use them, but [you might] end up with extra emissions,” he said.
“That's where we should perhaps be focusing on electric vehicles in rural areas, not in the urban areas where the walking, travel distances are shorter.”
'35% of all trips are less than two kilometres'
The focus in cities should be to help people find alternative forms of transport and encourage them to use them.
“35% of all trips are less than two kilometres,” Prof Caulfield said.
“But then there is also data that came out from the Department of Transport last week that said 90% of car drivers would consider using walking, cycling or public transport for shorter trips.
“One of the stats in there is that 3.5 million people in Ireland are within a 15-minute walk of a bus stop.
“It doesn't say how often the bus actually arrives, but it shows that that that network is there.
“We need to increase the frequency on that network to increase the numbers [of people using it].”
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