Delegates at a major two-day conference in Dublin on transport heard that the country faces ‘long-term serious consequences’ if the rate oi investment in our transport infrastructure is not doubled.
Speaking at the conference of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) to mark the visit to Ireland of its International President Dr Dorothy Chan, Institute President Finbarr Cleary spoke of the need to “double investment, prioritise maintenance and renewal of the existing road and rail network, and restart project planning for the future.”
Total transport spending by the Department of Transport has fallen from €3.7billion in 2008 to just €1.3billion this year, while capital spending has dwindled from €3billion at its peak to €800 million today.
“While this scale of reduction is understandable in the middle of the economic crisis, it is not sustainable in the medium term,” explained Mr Cleary. “Today we are not spending enough even to maintain and renew our existing network, let alone invest in necessary new projects.”
He contended that failure to double spending would result in serious long term consequences, with inadequate maintenance leaving roads vulnerable to damage, especially in harsh weathers. “If we fail to spend enough, our roads and railways will quickly deteriorate, reliability of public transport will suffer, and disruption and congestion increase. It will cost us a lot more to rectify the problem later.
He emphasised the need to get more out of the existing network, through measures such as better traffic management on roads, improved signalling on railways, more bus priority in cities and better use of information technology. The Chartered Institute recently published a paper calling for the introduction of bus rapid transit in Irish cities and welcomed the possibility of the NTA developing 3 bus corridors (Swords Airport – City Centre, Blanchardstown – UCD, Clongriffin – Tallaght).
Looking to the future, the Institute warned that project planning has been ‘cut to virtually nothing’ and that congestion will soon become a problem once economic activity resumes. “The competitiveness of our supply chain will be threatened and so, in turn, will our exports. It will be too late to only then restart project planning,” said Mr Cleary.
Dr Chan, formerly Deputy Commissioner of Transport for the Hong Kong Government, is addressing delegates on Women in the man’s world of transport and on sustainable transport systems. She is credited with helping develop a world-class public transport system for Hong King, catering for 11 million trips daily.
Other topics to be covered at the series of events being hosted by CILT include the Logistics and Transport Response to Humanitarian Crises and how Ireland can best serve the growing Asia-Pacific region. The National Transport Authority, Irish Army, Irish Aviation Authority, Hewlett Packard, Diageo and Wright Group are among the key players taking part.
The logistics and transport sector employs over 85,000 people in Ireland, accounting for 4% of the labour force. The Chartered Institute of Logistics is the independent international body for individuals and companies associated with logistics and transport, with over 33,000 members in more than 30 countries.