Minister says country's car population has grown dramatically.
The Minister for Transport, Séamus Brennan T.D. today (Thursday, 18th September 2003) gave details of a variety of public transport initiatives as part of European Car Free Day 2003, and urged everyone to participate in the event. Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann and DART are all supporting the initiative, which takes place on Monday next, 22nd September. A number of licensed private Transport Operators are also involved with their Local Authority.
Minister Brennan said: "Irelands car population has grown dramatically in recent years. There are now some 1.5 million private cars compared with some 800,000 ten years ago. We now have an average of more than one car per household, and as we all know some households have up to four cars where once there was just the one family car. There is now an urgent need for people to re-think their near total dependence on cars, particularly those who use them for very short journeys and for commuting to our cities and towns. Car Free Day is an ideal opportunity for people to for once leave the car at home and to sample the wide and varied range of services offered by public transport. I am confident that the majority of those who do so will realise that there are other, less stressful, ways of reaching their destinations. I am delighted that Bus Eireann, Dublin Bus, DART and other transport operators have lent their support to this initiative. European Car Free Day is an opportunity to explore alternative modes of transport and to showcase the benefits of public transport particularly to those who do not regularly use these services".
On the day, Bus Eireann will provide free city bus services between 10am and 4pm in Athlone, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford. A free service to the train station in Balbriggan will also be provided from 6.50am to 7pm on the day. In Dublin, Dublin Bus will be providing free travel for all passengers between 10am and 1pm. and launching their new range of tickets, Travel 90 tickets, some of which will be distributed free throughout the City. Free travel vouchers will also be given away on the day for use on DART . All three companies are also involved in the general promotion of European Car Free Day.
Over 1500 cities in Europe will participate in European Car Free Day. The seventeen Irish cities and towns confirmed to take part this year are: Athlone, Balbriggan, Clonakilty, Dublin, Galway, Greystones, Tralee, Listowel, Killarney, Kilkenny, Limerick, Newcastlewest, Monaghan, Sligo, Waterford, Westport and Wicklow. Ten cities and towns took part in Ireland in 2002.
In Ireland, each Local Authority is currently finalising its preparations for Car Free Day, with the support of Sustainable Energy Ireland, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Department of Transport. The final plans in each participating town and city will also involve representatives from the wider local communities including businesses, trade associations, community groups and schools and the Garda Siochana.
As Car Free Day is on a Monday this year, the focus will be on the commuter and the promotion of alternative worker mobility initiatives such as car sharing, cycling, walking to work and public transport. There will also be an emphasis on promoting the trial of sustainable transport plans for school children including car pooling, walking, cycling and public / private bus transport.
David Taylor of Sustainable Energy Ireland said: "Increased shared and public transport will be essential for the success of both this campaign and improved urban mobility in the long term".
Further information: Tom Rowley (01) 6041089 087 8124723