The utility of public transport in Ireland: Post COVID-19 lockdown and beyond
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Hynes, Mike, & Malone, Patrick. (2020). The Utility of Public Transport in Ireland: Post COVID-19 Lockdown and Beyond. PublicPolicy.ie (UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy).
Moves towards decarbonising the Irish economy must focus strongly on reducing car dependence, particularly in our cities and towns. Car dependence is also costly in terms of social and economic externalities. Public transport is a system that allows groups of individuals travel together on designed routes, often for a charge or fee. By transporting large numbers of people more efficiently, public transport plays a major role in alleviating traffic congestion and air pollution and is one of the key elements in making our cities and towns both environmentally sustainable and economically competitive. Factoring in these costs it becomes clear that investing in public transport is a public good and represents value for money for states facing the climate challenges of the early 21st century. Public transport in Ireland exists mainly in urban centres and takes the form of buses, trains and a light rail tram system. Faced with the impacts and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, public transport in Ireland now faces new challenges in the immediate future in terms of reduced capacity, social distancing rules, and a significant economic downturn. It is imperative that policy and decision-makers take a long-term view of the utility of public transport and endeavour to safeguard and, indeed, increase expenditure to protect a transport system that will be needed on the resumption of full economic activity in the near future. The alternative is to take regressive steps that will see a return to chronic car dependence and its resulting social, economic and environmental harm.