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The environment minister defended the plans which aims to manage and reduce congestion in towns. Alamy Stock Photo
roads strategy

Eamon Ryan says he is not in favour of immediate congestion charges

Asked if he wanted to see such charges introduced, the Green Party leader said he did not.

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT Minister Eamon Ryan has said new plans to allow local authorities to introduce congestion charges to its streets is a medium-to-long-term plan and suggested he is not in favour of the tariffs being immediately implemented.

During an interview with RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland this morning, the leader of the Green Party defended the new plans, approved by Cabinet yesterday, which aims to manage and reduce congestion in a bid to improve the transport system. 

“It’s not anti-motorist or anti-car, but a gridlock system – one which is congested and one where you never know how long your journey is going to take – isn’t going to benefit anyone,” Ryan said.

Yesterday’s approval is unlikely to see congestion charges being implemented by councils in the short-term, with Dublin City Council saying last October that it has no plans to introduce congestion charges for cars entering the city centre.

This point was reiterated this morning by Ryan, who said the immediate focus for local authorities should be on improving their traffic strategies. The Minister suggested that the Government did not want this plan to “price people off the roads”.

“It has to mean providing the better, quicker alternative and we’re doing that. Rural bus services are taking off in this country and the public are responding in an incredible way.”

The Green Party leader did accept that not every local or rural public transport service is running at the rate or standard which he, local authorities and the public would like but said the services can be improved with better road strategies.

“The key thing we will need is local authorities to provide the road space so that those buses work fast. Everyone would be able to tell you could in Cork, the bus system isn’t working because it’s stuck in traffic.”

Congestion charges and LEZs are two forms of traffic management that are in place in cities across the world. 

Congestion charges – which are in operation in cities such as London, Singapore, Stockholm and Milan – charge cars a daily rate for entering the city centre, with some cities hiking prices during peak traffic times or not charging during the weekends.

Certain cities then have an additional LEZ or Ultra Low Emissions Zones (ULEZ), which charge the most polluting cars that enter them.

Asked if he wanted to see such charges introduced, Ryan said he did not: “I don’t at the moment. We’ve done the analysis. If we try to price people off the road, that wouldn’t work.

“It wouldn’t be socially just, it would be very expensive on the motorist. I don’t think that’s the best way to go. 

“I think the best way to go is to reallocate the road space so you have a really effective public transport system and give the space for cyclists and pedestrians. That allocation of space, rather than the pricing people off the road, I think is the first step,” Ryan added.

The Green Party leader said he supported measures from local authorities in Dublin that plan to place a ban on through-traffic by placing diversions and changing traffic systems so cars drive around the city in order to reduce congestion.

Ryan added that he would like other local authorities to introduce similar plans.

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