28 Feb 2019

Greening our Public Transport

We need to talk climate change. It may be the greatestthreat we currently face.  In fact we need to do more than just talk – weneed to act also. And we need to act together.

I was pleased to be able to meet with concerned constituentsfrom my constituency in early December who are part of the “Stop Climate ChaosCoalition” group. We talked climate and transport and I was happy toanswer their questions about what my Department is doing to tackle thischallenge.

It was very encouraging to see people from Dundrum,Churchtown, Stillorgan and other areas of the constituency there, all focussedon discussing the best way to combat climate change.  Bad habits are hardto break and good ones even harder to make but as a society and as individualswe need to change how we do things in order to, quite literally, save theplanet.

We had a little ray of light on the day. News had just comein that transport emissions were down for the first time in 4 years – by 2.4 %.It may not sound like much but it’s a start in the right direction.

The sale of Electric Vehicles have more than doubled in thepast year – albeit from a low base – but the many measures we have introducedto encourage the take up of EV’s are working and working well. I saw one inStepaside last week! The promotion of EV’s was part 1 of the Low EmissionVehicle (LEV) Taskforce which was established in 2016. Part 2 is now focussingon all other alternative fuels such as compressed gas and hydrogen. Watch thisspace.

What we really want however is to get people out of cars andonto public transport. Important projects which will be progressed over thenext decade include Bus Connects, MetroLink and the Green Line Capacity Project.

 In the last fewmonths our local area has seen the installation of several extended Luas tramsas well as the addition of the long anticipated 175 bus routeoperatedby GoAhead Ireland connecting Ballinteer to UCD and Citywest. The 14 busroute operated by Dublin Bus has also recently increased its service. All theabove are vital if we want to have a public transport system that works for thetravelling public who need to use it.

But as I said, habits are hard to break, and though therewill naturally be some resistance to new routes and ways of getting from A toB, we absolutely must change how wetravel if we want to combat climate change and ease congestion.

Simultaneously we’re “greening” our public transport.

 If you saw a busdriving around the Southside in December with “Green Public Transport” writtenon the front, you’ll be interested to know that it’s part of a new trial inDublin and Cork which is testing alternatively fuelled buses to see which suitsus best. We’re also ceasing the purchase of diesel-only buses from summer 2019and continuing the Dart expansion programme amongst other public transportinitiatives.

The bottom line is that if we’re serious about tacklingclimate change – and we really don’t have a choice – then we need to change howwe do things. I’m not going to pretend this is easy but everyone will need tomake an effort and all of us have a contribution to make. I’m very glad to seeso many concerned constituents make that effort and assure them that I will doeverything in my power to assist them. It’s time to save the planet.

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