The Automobile Association (Ireland) is calling upon the Government to introduce free public transport and shared bikes trial across the country for a dedicated period before announcing any further penalties to motorists.
The call comes on foot of reports indicating that the Minister for Transport is set to announce further proposed measures to get drivers out of cars and into other modes of transport, a measure that The Automobile Association acknowledges must form part of future plans but not without adequate alternative measures in place.
“We know that there must be a push to other modes of transport in order to meet climate targets, said Paddy Comyn, Head of Communications for AA Ireland. “Many people will say there is no public transport solution available to them, or that the frequency isn’t there, so why not trial a well-signalled free public transport period, be it a week or a month, in order to thoroughly test the impact of moving en-masse to alternative modes. This will allow us to test capacity and a genuine appetite for alternative modes of transport. If public transportation is offered for free, but the uptake remains poor, then more punitive measures could be considered, adds Comyn.
The AA believes that a free public transport trial will only work if it is well-signalled in advance, has the full support of employers, who might have to allow workers more time for their commute and if accurate measures are taken of differences in air quality, the ability for busier routes to cope and that it takes place at a busy time of year, such as September, when traffic volumes are at amongst their busiest. It will also highlight any under provision or deficiencies of public transport in rural areas.
“The announcement of further punitive measures are going to spook already stretched Irish citizens. If we want to really test the alternatives, then make them free for a trial period. Cycling and walking are already free but clearly don’t work for everyone, let’s give Irish people a government-backed opportunity to trial alternatives. If its successful, then there can be greater incentives to use them, if it isn’t then and only then, should further punitive measures be used,” adds Comyn.