Gormley: Proper bus service will reduce car emissions

MORE buses, running on time and in their own bus lanes throughout the country will help solve Ireland’s emissions from the increasing number of cars on the road, said Environment Minister John Gormley.

A report just issued by the European Environmental Agency shows green house gases from vehicles on Irish roads increased by more than 180% in the past 16 years — the highest in the EU.

Mr Gormley said there are buses driving around half empty because people want to use their cars to transport themselves door to door.

On the other hand there have not been enough buses in Dublin to fill the bus lanes, but they have to be frequent and punctual, he said.

“Dart and Luas are so successful because you are guaranteed you do not have to wait a long time for one. The bus is still not seen as an attractive public transport system,” he said.

The number of cars on the roads with just one person in them has been increasing. Peder Jensen, who wrote the report, said people must be persuaded to change their habits and start using public transport.

At the same time Irish people walk little more than a kilometre a day and cycle less than four kilometres a week, one of the lowest rates in the EU.

Mr Gormley ruled out congestion taxes at least until people are provided with a real alternative to their cars, but a carbon levy is likely to go ahead.

Executive director of the EEA, Professor Jacqueline McGlade said governments and citizens need to rethink their approach to transport policy. “Transport has been a free-rider for too long when it comes to the fight against global warming and carbon emissions. We cannot continue to give privileges to less efficient transport modes,” she said.

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