Making public transport free to tackle climate change is a “no-brainer”, People Before Profit has said.
The party believes the Government needs to implement “radical” policies to reach net zero and feels free transport would be an important step on the way.
“Transport accounts for up to 40% of our emissions in this country and beyond,” TD Bríd Smith told The Hard Shoulder.
“That’s why we’re seeing an increased number of cities and jurisdictions around the world [introduce] free, frequent public transport.”
Deputy Smith said making public transport free would incentivise people to change how they live their lives, rather than forcing them to do so through punitive measures.
“It encourages them [people] to change their personal behaviour in a way that is positive and beneficial to them,” she said.
“I think that free [and] frequent is really a no-brainer and is something that in a country of this size, we could introduce in the morning.
“Obviously, the frequency and the improvement of the public transport infrastructure can’t be done in the morning but we could begin to do that at the same time as making public transport free and taking people out of their cars.”
People Before Profit want the policy to apply to all methods of public transport and feel it would even be popular in rural Ireland where people mostly use their cars to get around.
“I was telling your researcher earlier on, I was down in West Cork recently - a tiny peninsula - on Bearra where they’ve recently introduced a local link that flies up and down the peninsula in between the little villages and townlands frequently,” Deputy Smith said.
“It’s very, very popular with the local people and it’s virtually free because those who use it are either pensioners or people on disabilities.
“The fares are also very, very low but imagine if that was free and frequent all over the country?”
In 2022, as part of a series of measures to tackle the cost of living crisis, the German Government introduced a €9 ticket that allowed citizens unlimited rail travel for a month.
A study into the policy estimated it reduced carbon emissions by 1.8 billion tonnes but only reduced the number of car journeys by 10%.
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Main image: A Bus Éireann Expressway coach to Galway arrives in The Diamond in the centre of Donegal Town. Picture by: Alamy.com