Photo credit: Green Party/Flickr

“We need to act fast”: Ryan frustrated over slow climate progress

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has expressed frustration over the slow progress of various green government projects – particularly those related to a “low carbon” transition.

The Green Party leader’s comments were made in response to reports that the implementation of contactless bank card payments for public transport would take years, as well as delays in Dublin’s College Green plaza project.

The plaza project is a proposal to transform a busy street intersection in the heart of Dublin city into a pedestrianised plaza. The project aims to create a new public space in one of the busiest parts of the city, with more space for walking, cycling, and public transport. The plans include the removal of cars from the area, the creation of a new bus corridor, and more.

However, the proposal has faced some delays and controversy, and was initially rejected by An Bord Pleanála back in 2018 over fears of “significant negative impacts” on traffic throughout the city. However, the plan was revisited last year once again by Eamon Ryan, and looks set to proceed despite delays.

“In every sector and every department, we do need to act fast – particularly in the switch to a low-carbon future,” Ryan said this week.

“It’s not just about College Green; it’s looking at the traffic system within the wider city centre area.”

Although plans to remove all vehicles from College Green have encountered setbacks, private cars will be fully excluded from the area by the end of May. Ryan sees this move as the first step in the changes to the city centre, which will involve reallocating road space to facilitate faster bus transit and promote walking and cycling.

According to Anne Graham, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Transport Authority, they are developing a “next-generation ticketing system” that includes bank cards for contactless payments on buses.

“Of course we’d like to get it delivered as quickly as possible, but we do have to go through a public procurement process,” Graham said. “But you have to recognize we do have a very flexible system with the Leap card that is available across many of our services across the country.”

As Ryan urges faster movement on climate policies, the cost of energy is hitting households hard, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar expressing concern over the rising number of people falling behind on their gas bills.

The figure of people falling into arrears increased from 20% to 23% during the first quarter of 2023, while the number of electricity customers in arrears decreased from 11% to 9% over the same period.

Gript previously asked Finance Minister Michael McGrath if he would consider suspending scheduled carbon tax hikes later this year to help those falling into energy poverty to pay their bills. The Minister’s answer can be viewed below.


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