Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, today said the party’s Alternative Budget proposals would make public transport safer, more accessible and more affordable, cutting carbon emissions while delivering social and economic benefits for citizens.
The Meath East TD said:
“Sinn Féin is proposing to inject an additional €196m million into our public transport system next year, cutting fares, investing in new rail infrastructure, accelerating the rollout of rural bus services and making public transport safer and more accessible.
“Our progressive proposals show that we can cut emissions while delivering social and economic benefits for citizens at the same time.
“We would make the temporary 20% fare reduction permanent, extend it to commercial bus operators and cut fares for under-18s by 50%, helping people with the cost-of-living crisis and making public transport more affordable for workers and families.
“Sinn Féin would provide €23m in initial capital funding to kickstart the Navan Rail Line and Western Rail Corridor projects.
“When complete, these projects combined could provide for an additional 2,375,000 sustainable passenger journeys each year, delivering significant benefits for the regions and our environment.
“For those living in rural Ireland accessing services, employment, education and retail is difficult if not impossible, without using a private car.
“The Connecting Ireland plan aims to change this by providing 70% of the population outside of cities with a bus service that provides at least three return trips each weekday to a nearby town.
“Given the total lack of public transport alternatives in rural Ireland, we believe the Connecting Ireland rural bus plan should be accelerated. Therefore in 2023 we would provide half the remaining funding needed to deliver these important rural bus services quicker.
“Statistics from the Census show 13.5% of the population here have a disability. If we are to achieve a modal shift at the level required to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030, ensuring universal access for all on public transport will be essential.
“In 2023, we would increase the Public Transport Accessibility Retrofit Programme to €27.5m next year, helping to remove the accessibility barriers for those with disabilities.
“We would maintain this level of funding over a five-year term in government to fund all the works needed to ensure our public transport system is accessible for all.
“Also key to getting more people using sustainable public transport more often, is to make it safer for commuters and tourists.
“The Travelling in a Woman’s Shoes report found that just 15% of women in Dublin felt safe using trains, with only 24% feeling safe using a bus in the capital.
“Sinn Féin would establish a dedicated transport policing unit, to help make public transport safer and encourage more people to use it, thereby increasing passenger numbers and decreasing carbon emissions.
“Our approach to tackling transport emissions will put affordable transport alternatives in place first, in contrast to the government’s punitive approach of increasing fuel prices for those who simply have no alternatives to turn to.”