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Driving the price

Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil voters among least likely to support a congestion charge

Polling by Ireland Thinks and TGIP found that Green Party voters are the highest supporters of a congestion charge in Irish cities.

SINN FÉIN AND Fianna Fáil voters are among the least likely of political party supporters to back a congestion charge in Irish cities.

Polling from The Good Information Project/Ireland Thinks found that only 29% of Sinn Féin voters and 33% of Fianna Fáil voters would support a congestion charge.

In contrast, 83% of Green Party voters said they would be in favour of the measure.

Aontú voters showed the lowest level of support for a charge, with only 20% in favour.

Congestion charges – a fee to drive into a city centre or certain zones within it – are aimed at reducing the volume of traffic in a city.

London introduced a congestion charge in 2003, which now comes at a cost of £15 per day for someone who drives into the congestion zone between 7am and 10pm (except for on Christmas Day).

Pete Lunn, head of the Behavioural Research Unit at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), told The Journal that congestion charging is “an effective policy from the point of view of reducing congestion”.

A report from the Department of Transport in March found positive results from congestion charges in cities like Milan and Stockholm and suggested that similar schemes be looked at in Dublin and Cork.

It concluded that there is “very strong evidence that congestion charging delivers reductions in traffic volumes, improves air quality measures and reduces the levels of CO2 from transport emissions”.

However, introducing a congestion charge could be challenging.

“As a behavioural economist, one thing I can tell you is that people have a really strongly inbuilt bias against change. They find change threatening,” Lunn said.

“But when it comes to these big environmental policies where we’ve got to do them and they are going to make a substantial difference, policy-makers have to be brave and take that conservatism on,” he said.

After the Greens, Social Democrats were the second-most likely to support the charge with 57% backing it.

Among every other political affiliation, support was lower than 50%.

44% of Labour voters said yes; 37% of Solidarity-People Before Profit; 36% of Fine Gael and 33% of Independent voters.

Solidarity-People Before Project voters showed the greatest level of uncertainly – nearly one in five said they didn’t know.

Ireland Thinks polled a representative sample of 1,279 people on two days in July.

Overall, 36% answered yes to the question: “Should there be a congestion charge for cars entering Irish cities?”

55% said no and 8% didn’t know. The suggestion was most unpopular with car users and people living in Dublin’s commuter belt.

Regionally, support was highest among people in Dublin at 42%, but lowest in Leinster more broadly at only 28%.

38% of people in Connacht or Ulster and 33% of those in Munster were in favour of a congestion charge – although 14% of those in Connacht or Ulster weren’t sure.

Among commuters, nearly three in four DART passengers said yes, along with 55% of walkers, 51% of cyclists, 50% of bus passengers and 45% of Luas passengers.

Among people who have always worked from home and those who are neither working nor studying, support for a charge was at 40% and 36% respectively, while 30% of train passengers backed it.

Only 27% of car users were in favour of a congestion charge in Irish cities.

The poll also asked respondents what the maximum fares should be for a public transport journey under an hour and over an hour.

For journeys under an hour, the median preference was €2, while for longer trips over an hour, the median was €5.

When it comes to paying for trips, most people would like to pay with a Leap Card or a debit/credit card.

22% would ideally like to use their smartphone and 16% prefer cash.

New methods like bank cards and smartphones for buying tickets and pay fares on public transport could be rolled out within the next three years, the National Transport Authority told The Journal

Digital payment options that would allow passengers to pay with contactless bank cards, smartphones and QR codes could be available by 2023 or 2024 under a “next generation ticketing” system currently in development. 

The new options will come first to Dublin Bus under the BusConnects project and expand to other parts of the country. 

This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work is the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here

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