Irish Government mulls cuts in transport spending

The Sunday Business Post is reporting that the new Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, is considering making cuts in spending for the National Development Plan, connecting economic growth (or lack of it) to spending on key projects like transport improvements.

Is Transport21 part of the NDP or considered a separate entity in this context? We’re not sure, but this doesn’t sound good. When are the powers-that-be going to realise that you need to spend money to make money?

Instead of cutting spending on transport during a downturn we need to increase it – history shows that key infrastructure projects can be an engine for growth in an economy. And that’s leaving aside the most obvious point, the more time people spend getting to work means the less time is being spent energising the economy. In the market driven society the Government seem keen for us to live in, does it make any sense to have all your consumers and workers sitting in gridlock for hours each day?

You can read the full article here, but here is the section that relates to transport spending:

Public transport and road infrastructure are the cornerstones of the government’s National Development Plan. The €34 billion Transport 21 plan is seen as the key to reducing congestion and the provision of integrated public transport.

While rail projects, like Metro North and the western rail corridor, are steaming ahead, many of the secondary road schemes are only in the planning stages, and new bus services are subject to an economic review – and suffering because of oil prices.

The schemes that are only in the planning stages are those most at risk if cuts are made to the NDP. Under the NDP transport programme, €17.6 billion is allocated to roads, €13 billion to public transport, €1.9 billion to airports and €481 million to ports.

The biggest single project under Transport 21 is Metro North. Estimates for the cost of this 17-kilometre line, from Swords to the city centre, have been as high as €5 billion. The bidders vying to build it recently received the project’s specifications from the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA).

Meanwhile, work has started on the first phase of the western rail corridor from Ennis to Athenry, and on a new line from Navan to Dublin’s docklands While the National Roads Authority( NRA) has 80 secondary road projects at planning stage, the main focus for 2009 and 2010 is the completion of the inter-urban motorways, according to a spokesman.

‘‘The focus now is on the completion of these motorways, from Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford to Dublin, by2 010 – that is our primary concern in terms of projects,” he said.

Work on the Luas lines to the Docklands and Cherrywood is going ahead, and the RPA is awaiting a railway order on the A1 line, the Citywest extension.

Dublin Bus is not planning any new services for next year or later, until the results of an efficiency review are published in September. There are plans to build a new multimillion bus depot that would cater for 250 buses at Grangecastle in the next two years, along with the roll-out of the €15 million real-time passenger information system.

A Bus Eireann spokeswoman said that, while new connections to Dublin airport from Wicklow, as well as frequency enhancements on some city services in Cork and Limerick, were planned for next year, the ‘‘changing economic picture, nationally, may influence the exact number of new services and service enhancements which can be introduced’’.

2 Responses to “Irish Government mulls cuts in transport spending”

  1. A sad but hardly surprising article which says just about what is being whispeded in the corridors of Transport Power.

    Consider the vast amount of Public Funds which have been wasted in the total mis-construction of seperate unconnected Luas lines allied to a committment to spend even Vaster (?) amounts on a Rail Based infrastructure which some argue cannot be made to fit our current spatial and demographic setup.

    Then take a look at the pitiful level of investment in the pre-existing Dublin Bus network,which for all it`s faults was and is operating a fiscally tight ship.

    Yet every attempt by Dublin Bus management to expand,improve or alter services has been robustly delayed or downright blocked by a Department of Transport which does not have any idea of its role in modern Ireland.

    The Department (or at least it`s Senior Officials) declare their helplessness in the face of a variety of EU legal threats from the private sector,yet openly admitting it`s own inability to even monitor the level of unlicenced operation in its area of responsibility.

    The only positive aspect in any of this has been the work of the Dàil Committee on Transport under it`s much maligned chairman Frank Fahey.
    As Chairman,Mr Fahey was the first politician I encountered to actually understand the mechanics of a PUBLIC Bus service.
    He continually sought to wheedle answers out of a variety of public and private sector representatives on the reasons for the lack of OFF-PEAK services on our Bus Routes.
    He repeatedly sought answers as to why the Departments highest thinkers could not see merit in directing investment into a Bus Service infrastructure which is Not operating to it`s fullest potential.

    If one reads a transcript of the Committee`s questioning of the City and County Managers regarding Park N Ride schemes one can sense the palpable horror at finding out that these Grand Panjandrum`s of Civic Administration had NO position on P`n R for BUS use….they only considered RAIL for their schemes.

    Make no mistake but several of the Big Number rail infrastructure projects will be long fingered if not dropped,however the danger is that NO compensatory investment will be made in the Bus sector either.

    More Hair shirt stuff I fear !

  2. They need to put the brakes on “Metro North” at once. What are we getting for €472 million per mile? Not very much; a little over 10.6 miles of railway that will be mostly on the surface! (The Luas was also ridiculously overpriced, at €50 million per mile.) The RPA is a huge money pit and ought to be disbanded.

    You’d think with the new fuel crunch that DB might be looking into proven technologies like trolleybuses, perhaps? Nope, not a peep out of them on that score. Instead, the politicians are racing to the bottom once more to create a new version of the Dublin United Transportation Company under a different name.

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