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Minister zooms ahead with 'car club' scheme

Deputy Eoghan Murphy is behind the idea, which will see local authorities looking after its implementation once Deputy Varadkar brings new laws into place.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

COMMUTERS WILL SOON be able to rent cars like Dublin bikes thanks to new moves from the government.

Fine Gael Deputy Eoghan Murphy first put the idea forward for local authority-regulated ‘car club’ rental schemes as a private members’ bill in the Dáil, and now Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has helped moved it on further.

Under the new legislation, which will be introduced in March, the local authorities will be tasked with setting up a system, similar to the Dublin Bikes scheme, whereby people will be able to rent cars on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Deputy Murphy said that because of the lottery system for private members’ bills, you can’t have more than one bill on the table at the same time. As he has a tax transparency bill at the moment, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar agreed to look after Deputy Murphy’s idea.

“He is going to take much of my bill and transpose it into his next road traffic bill,” explained Deputy Murphy. “The intention is to have that published before Christmas.”

It is planned to have it in law by March. The bill was debated in July.

Legislation

Deputy Murphy said that the scheme will be good for people such as families who are thinking about buying a second car; people living in the city centre who want a car but are not able to afford car space; and people who need the use of a car on an occasional basis.

He said that companies could allow employees to use the cars and would be able to track the mileage and other factors.

Deputy Murphy said such a system “works very well in other cities like San Francisco and London” and that he had used it while staying with his brother in London.

The next phase is giving local authorities the power to make bye-laws for the provision and use of charging bays on public roads for electric cars. The bill states that:

In the longer term both measures separately and combined should serve to increase the use of electric vehicles and car sharing by the general  public, thereby leading to a reduction in emissions, cleaner and more efficient transport, less congestion on public roads, lower demand for public parking places, and lower costs of transport for car users.

Local authorities

There is currently one private business offering such a system, called GoCar, of which the Deputy is a member. He said that GoCar is a private operator “ready to take advantage of the law” when it comes into affect.

Murphy said that the car rental areas will need to be in visible spaces and the local authorities will choose where those are.

He said that the bill will give power to local authorities to regulate the market and how many companies will be involved.

“It will give them the power to make bye-laws and regulate this industry,” he said.

How quickly the car scheme is introduced “depends on how ready the council are”, said Murphy, adding the intention is to start getting local authorities ready for when the legislation comes through, so that there won’t be a delay in getting it up and running.

It could be a lengthy process sending the plans out for public consultation, which is why he said he hoped that local authorities could “get ahead of the curve” now.

What I don’t want to happen is it comes into law on 1 March and then three to four months later a sub-committee [begins working on it]

Read: On your bike: Bacik wants more Senators and TDs to cycle to work>

Read: Number of Dublin bikes to be tripled by Christmas>

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