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’’.