The strong support for better public transport in Newstalk’s Transport Survey is ‘very heartening’, the CEO of the National Transport Authority has said.
The exclusive poll conducted by Amárach Research found that 61% of people in Ireland would give up their car in exchange for “reliable and frequent” public transport.
The NTA is a statutory non-commercial body charged with improving public transport in Ireland and Anne Graham said the findings are music to her ears.
“I was very heartened to see that level of interest in reliable and frequent public transport services and that people would give up their car,” she told The Hard Shoulder.
“I suppose we’ve seen that where we have invested in services in Dublin and our cities in particular, people have responded [well].”
The survey also indicated there is strong support for improvements to road infrastructure; nearly eight in 10 want more road upgrades and 60% support building more motorways.
It is a finding that Ms Graham said is not surprising given how dependent any communities are on cars.
“We recognise that public transport is not going to be able to offer an alternative for every journey that’s done across Ireland,” she said.
“Particularly when we look at how dispersed our population is in rural Ireland.
“So, in terms of investment priorities, we had a significant investment in the motorway infrastructure and road infrastructure a number of years ago.
“That investment wasn’t available for the public transport system and all we’re really asking is there’s a rebalance in terms of investment so we can now invest significantly in our public transport system.”
The poll also found that a majority of car owners would not give up driving if public transport were made free - something that does not surprise Ms Graham.
“What we have found is that [in places where public transport is free] people don’t transfer from cars - not to a very large extent,” she said.
“Maybe about 1% but the majority of the transfer is actually [from] people that would have been walking or cycling… they just step on the bus.”
The poll interviewed 1,201 Irish adults – of whom 83% solely or jointly own a car.
Main image: Bus Éireann buses. Picture by: RollingNews.ie