28 Feb 2019

Greening our Public Transport

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

I was pleased to be able to meet with concerned constituents from my constituency in early December who are part of the “Stop Climate Chaos Coalition” group. We talked climate and transport and I was happy to answer their questions about what my Department is doing to tackle this challenge.

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

We had a little ray of light on the day. News had just come in 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 the past year – albeit from a low base – but the many measures we have introduced to encourage the take up of EV’s are working and working well. I saw one in Stepaside last week! The promotion of EV’s was part 1 of the Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Taskforce which was established in 2016. Part 2 is now focussing on all other alternative fuels such as compressed gas and hydrogen. Watch this space.

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

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

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

Simultaneously we’re “greening” our public transport.

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

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

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