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Eamon Ryan says free public transport would increase “unnecessary trips”

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said that calls to make public transport free as part of government proposals to curb the use of cars in cities would ‘increase the level of unnecessary journeys’. 

Responding to a parliamentary question by Brid Smyth of People Before Profit who asked if consideration has been given to extending reductions in fares or “moving to providing fare-free public transport”,  Ryan said that any increase in the number of passengers on public transport if it was made free “would largely be achieved by reductions in active travel and an increased level of unnecessary trips”.

Ryan referenced unspecified research to support his claims saying “Further, that same research tells us that any increase in public transport demand due to free fares would largely be achieved by reductions in active travel and an increased level of unnecessary trips”.

The minister continued, “Ultimately then, free fares would not substantially boost the sustainability of the transport system, primarily because passenger demand is much more sensitive to levels of service provision than it is to pricing.” 

He added that these would be in place “until the end of 2023.”

His comments came after calls were made to make public transport free to offset Government plans to levy a 10 daily charge for motorists who drive into  Cork, Dublin, Waterford, Limerick and Galway.

Gript’s Ben Scallan reported that the proposed charges would amount to €280 a month for motorists accessing cities excluding the cost of fuel and parking. 

Under the proposal parking fees would also be increased by 400% compared to 2016 rates and measures to reduce the speed limits on roads by 20km/h. 

These moves would be enacted in conjunction with halving public transport fares. 

He said that a number of fare initiatives had been implemented in 2022 and that these were “in line with this Government’s responsibility to encourage modal shift and to benefit public transport passengers”. 


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