Councils should consider banning taxis on some routes in Irish cities in order to allow quicker bus services, according to Green Party MEP Ciaran Cuffe.
The Dublin MEP has suggested that the new need for social distancing on buses means we need to focus on improving the efficiency of the country's limited fleets.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, he said that a bus with 20-25 people on board still takes up less space on the road than a car with one or two passengers.
He observed: "What I think we need to do is give public transport greater priority on our streets.
"That means reprogramming our traffic lights to make sure that buses get a green wave; I think it means more bus lanes to make sure that buses aren't stuck in traffic; and I think more controversially we may have to take taxis out of certain routes in order to allow buses go quicker.
"The bus fleet is limited, and if we want to get the maximum capacity out of that fleet we'll have to turn around the buses quite quickly."
He said such measures to support public transport are needed across Europe, not just in Ireland.
Mr Cuffe acknowledged there is likely to be a reluctance by some people to return to public transport in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
He pointed to data from one Chinese city, showing the number of people driving doubled amid the pandemic.
However, he said: "We've got to look at the health evidence, and we've got to ensure public transport offers an attractive possibility for people travelling.
"That I think means making sure we have a really good regular bus service, and that we don't have overcrowding at peak times - that was difficult pre-COVID, so it will be really challenging now."
Mr Cuffe was speaking as Dublin City Council considers new traffic laws that could see 30 km/h speed limits reduced on more roads.
Under the proposals, slower zones would be introduced in all suburbs as well as most major arterial routes to allow for more pedestrians and cyclists.
Meanwhile @DubCityCouncil discuss ambitious plans for 30 km/h (in yellow) from 50 km/h on some arterial routes. A game-changer for safety, but requires messaging from @RSAIreland and enforcement from @GardaTraffic https://t.co/J7t75l77Oh pic.twitter.com/2EJCbJ5ls9
— Ciarán Cuffe (@CiaranCuffe) June 3, 2020
Mr Cuff observed: "This is following a trend we're seeing around Europe, where local authorities are making more space available for walking and cycling, and trying to calm the traffic so it's a lot easier for people to get around on their feet or on a bike.
"Some roads that perhaps are wider or straighter - such as Cork Street or the Swords road - would remain with a 50 km/h speed limit.
"We know that most drivers break the speed limit, even when it is reduced to 30 km/h - but I think if the outcome would be people driving at 40 km/h, that would be a massive improvement from the current state where people are driving at 60, 70, 80 km/h on roads that have a 50 km/h speed limit."
Mr Cuffe said cities such as Brussels, Rome and London are already seeing 'massive efforts' from councils to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
He argued: "These are extraordinary times, and I think we need to bend over backwards to help people get around in a way that they consider safe."
Main image: File photo of Green Party MEP Ciaran Cuffe. Photo Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie