A new study showing free buses and trains would barely impact on car usage is “an indictment about how bad our public transport network is,” a professor of engineering has said.
Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has rejected the idea of free public transport, claiming it would only lead to "an increased level of unnecessary trips” but People Before Profit believe it would "get people out of private cars".
A new Ernst & Young report released this morning has backed Minister Ryan’s stance, finding that free public transport would mean a 7% reduction in walking and a 13% reduction in cycling – but only 1% less car journeys.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Trinity Engineering Professor Brian Caulfield said most car users do not think public transport in Ireland is good enough
“People want more capacity and more frequency - those are the two key things that they want,” he said.
“They want our public transport system to be better and looking at the results that come out of this report, it shows that so few car users are willing to swap out of their cars for public transport.
“That’s an indictment about how bad our public transport network is at the moment.”
Professor Caulfield said if the Government wants to reduce car usage, it would be better off spending money on improving public transport instead.
“It was estimated to cost about €530 million, this free public transport [plan and] that would buy you about 800 buses,” he said.
“We need to do that for a number of years to get our bus fleet up, improve our rail network, build light rail, build the metro.
“All these types of things that we’ve been talking about for decades - just do them.
“Then, if we need free public transport, look at that.”
The transport sector represents 18% of Ireland’s carbon emissions.
Main image: An electric bus. Image: Emma Tyrrell/Newstalk