10 things I’d do if I were Minister for Transport (if I Had an Endless Amount of Money)

by Hillary Mullen

  1. Put the Vienna model in place in Dublin

As part of the Green Party’s 2020 election manifesto, they promised voters that if elected they would put in place steps to introduce a “Vienna model” of public transportation into Dublin city. As someone who was living in Vienna for their Erasmus at the time of this election campaign, it was somewhat encouraging because I could not get over how reliable and efficient public transportation was in this city. You had buses (that showed up on time), a tram system with more than two lines that connected in multiple locations and an underground system that has actually been built and used within the last twenty years instead of only being spoken about like its Chinese Whispers. 

Viennese people pay €1 a day for unlimited use of public transportation. When I lived there I paid approximately 60c a day as a student for the entire semester. You could literally spend the entire day sitting on public transportation and it would cost you pennies. It would be a dream for Dublin to have this system.

Let’s just say that Eamon Ryan is a few naps in the Dáil away from achieving this goal. If I had an endless amount of money as the Minister of Transport, I would put steps in place to make this a reality, getting the metro built as soon as possible and develop above ground transportation over time.

2.  Grants to Hybrid motorists

By 2030, it is planned by the Irish government to have 1 million electric cars on the roads. I feel this number could be achieved sooner or later if more cars on the road could become electric if better incentives or grants were given to motorists to encourage them to switch.  

3. Improve cycling roads

In recent weeks, it was announced that Oscar winner Rami Malik, famous for his iconic role as Freddie Mercury in the film Bohemian Rhapsody, spent his lockdown days in Dublin. He revealed that one thing he enjoyed doing was cycling around the city. My first thought was that he is clearly a daredevil. I love to cycle on my bike back home but I couldn’t imagine cycling in the city centre, it’s absolute chaos for our poor cyclists. How many times have we heard on the news of cyclists having accidents next to Dublin buses and on Luas lines? The cycling system in Dublin is all over the shop. I would make more roads in Dublin pedestrian/ cycle friendly to prevent these accidents from happening, by implementing segregated cycle lanes that protect the cyclists from oncoming traffic.

4. Revise LEAP card system

Miss Leap needs a makeover sis. I feel she could be used more frequently on other services where paper tickets are still used. For example, if I were to take the train from Dundalk to Connolly Station, I would need a paper ticket, whereas if I took a train from Connolly Station to Maynooth afterwards, I can use my Leap Card. Leap Cards are a staple in Dublin and other major cities in Ireland but cannot be used further than the suburbs. I would allow people to use LEAP cards nationwide on buses and trains anywhere in the country. There are many bike stations across Dublin where people can borrow a bike for a small fee. The machines in which you borrow these can be quite confusing and it could be a lot handier for Dubliners if they could tap on and off these bikes with their Leap Card instead

5.  Improve national roads

Not every road has to lead to Dublin you know, just saying.

6.  No longer make Dublin a focus point

There should be no need for me to come through Dublin in order to leave Dublin a lot of the time. How come people have to go through Dublin to travel somewhere outside Dublin? There should be more public transport stops focusing on taking people to other parts of the country. If bigger train stations were made bigger in the likes of Longford or in Cavan with more lines going to places outside of Dublin, it could divert a lot of unnecessary travel out of the city. 

7.  Give Donegal a damn train station…

…and improve Irish Rail overall. How does one of the most remote counties in Ireland not have at least one train station, you would think that would have been ticked off the to-do list years ago. Alas, that’s how Irish Rail works. 

8. Give students better ticket rates

I was glad to hear in this year’s budget that people ages 23 and under would receive 50% off public transportation rates. This was long overdue as the prices to use public transportation in Ireland is far more expensive than many other European countries. I would continue this or potentially make student rates cheaper or as they do in France, anyone under 25 gets a cheaper fare on public transport.

9. Provide funding for scientific research on more sustainable eco-friendly transportation

This may sound a bit extravagant but in the last number of years, Ireland has really proven itself to be at the helm of scientific research. I would love there to be some investment from the Minister of Transport on scientific projects that focus on making transportation more sustainable and eco-friendly. Imagine if an Irish scientist created a car like the DeLorean in Back to the Future where you used your leftover compost waste as petrol or a teleport so that you never had to sit on a stuffy bus for 3 hours a day ever again, you’d be lying if you said you did not want to buy one. 

10.  A carpool bonus

For those of us who commute to the city on buses and cars going through motorways, you may be used to seeing cars with just one passenger inside. If the government were to give some sort of bonus or tax break for people commuting into the city by car through a carpool arrangement, it could encourage less congestion on the roads of dozens of cars heading to the same commuter towns. It would make the roads safer and would greatly reduce CO2 emissions produced. 

I hope I haven’t bored you all but this is what I would do as Minister for Transport. I know some of these things cannot be achieved so quickly in reality (the DeLorean I mean unfortunately). However, with a bit more push from the current Minister and a bit more funding put in place to prioritise some things on this list, then we could see things improve for public transport sooner than expected. 

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