Fianna Fáil is outlining a new plan to tackle congestion and improve life for commuters in Dublin and surrounding counties.

Party Spokesperson Timmy Dooley said the country is facing a huge standard of living challenge as employment and population numbers grow, traffic congestion will reduce commuters’ quality of life and increase work-related stress on families.

“Congestion makes it harder to match the right workers to the best jobs as people will be unable to travel long distances to work.  After a certain point, traffic congestion also becomes a drag on productivity and economic growth.  This is going to be a major challenge for the country.  If we continue with present transport policies, congestion will get worse, transport emissions will escalate, economic competitiveness will decline and people’s quality of life will suffer.

“Fianna Fáil’s plan would encourage off-peak commutes with a ‘’Toll-Saver’’ incentive, allowing motorists to claim 20% of their annual toll costs via a tax credit, saving an average user €200 a year.  We estimate it could take 30,000 cars (about 10%) from peak period traffic in Dublin, which would significantly reduce congestion.

“Other Traffic Demand Measures include, regulating construction/road works to off-peak times and introducing new information and accident systems to prevent the type of blockages we saw all over the city this year from accidents on the M50.

“As a Party we believe that we have to reduce private car dependency, but the answer is not simply to make life more difficult for motorists.  Fianna Fáil will place a greater emphasis on getting more car users onto public transport.  This will require a public transport system across Dublin that is more reliable, integrated, affordable and attractive.  Fianna Fáil will invest an additional €28.5m a year in public transport.  The Fine Gael / Labour government with its short-sighted policies cut spending on public transport by 25%.

“Consistent fare hikes over the last five years have made a significant dent in people’s pockets and a larger and larger portion of commuters’ wages are eaten up by the cost of simply getting to work.  We will implement fare freezes for three years and introduce targeted fare reductions for young people to assist in the development of long-term public transport use.

“This government has failed to grasp the link between building critical transport infrastructure and sustainable economic growth.  They have produced few policy plans for how to mitigate transport bottlenecks and infrastructure deficits which are becoming a drag on growth and productivity in our cities.

“Fianna Fáil believes that now is the time to build critical transport infrastructure and plan to recommence  the Dart Underground which will treble capacity on the rail network, make it easier for commuters to get to work and relieve congestion in our cities.

“Fianna Fáil’s plans are credible, realistic and helpful for thousands of families and commuters.  Fine Gael seems content to allow public transport to grind to a halt.  Fianna Fáil has a vision for a vibrant, thriving, integrated transport network that will benefit the entire country.”