Time stuck in “aggravated” traffic jams in the greater Dublin area alone is costing the economy €350m a year — and that could rise to €2bn per year within 15 years.
Drivers are caught in aggravated congestion when the number of vehicles on a part of the network is higher than the network can handle and serious traffic delays arise.
Due to the increased travel demand across Dublin in particular, the Department of Transport’s Economic and Financial Evaluation Unit has been researching the cost of aggravated congestion across Ireland’s transport system.
The first phase of the project, which is being finalised, estimated the annual value of time lost to road users in the greater Dublin area.
Transport Minister Shane Ross said the unit has taken information from a number of sources to estimate activity on the roads including census travel-to-work data, National Transport Authority surveys, car ownership data and CSO small area population statistics.
“A final project report will be published on my department’s website in the coming weeks,” he told Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart.
“However, I understand that the analysis undertaken for the report estimates that the cost of time lost due to aggravated congestion in the greater Dublin area is currently €350m per annum and is forecast to rise to €2bn per annum in 2033.”
He said the research, compiled in association with the National Transport Authority, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and Dublin City Council, is an important consideration in formulating “my overall approach to tackling congestion in the short to medium term”.
“It forms a key part of the case for increased public transport investment, as part of the mid-term review of the Government’s capital plan in 2017,” he said.
Barry Aldworth of AA said the traffic congestion problem was not just confined to Dublin but affected all cities in Ireland.
“People might look at Dublin and think ‘it has the Luas and other transport services’, but even in Dublin there is a congestion issue,” said Mr Aldworth.
“We really missed a trick when we first thought of the Luas in Dublin. We should have been putting similar things in place for Cork and Galway because on a bad day we will see congestion as bad there as we will in Dublin.
“It is an issue which has been allowed to worsen and worsen with no real attempts to rectify it. Ultimately it does cost the economy quite significantly.
“There are too many people sitting in traffic when they don’t need to. In a lot of cases those people would prefer to use public transport to commute to work but it is not there for them.”
Mr Aldworth said that when one compared Ireland’s public transport infrastructure to other countries, “we are poor at best”.
“That is not a reflection necessarily of drivers or people operating trains or trams. It is a reflection of investment in that sector as a whole,” he said.
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