Free public transport would incentivise excessive travel, says report

Free public transport would be “overly costly and incentivise excessive travel” and would result in just a 1 per cent reduction in car travel according to an independent report commissioned by the National Transport Authority (NTA) in Ireland.

Motorists are more likely to switch to public transport if fuel prices increase, or parking and road usage is restricted, rather than if fares are made free, according to a report from accountancy firm Ernst and Young, reports the Irish Times.

The elimination of fares would cost up to €550 million a year, or €750 million a year if private bus operators were included in the scheme. It could also increase antisocial behaviour by users, and there was a risk of “public backlash” if the policy had to be reversed, the report found.

The report was submitted to the NTA last December but was published after it was referenced in the Dáil last week by Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan. In response to a parliamentary question from People Before Profit’s Bríd Smith on whether he was considering free fares, Mr Ryan said it would result in “reductions in active travel and an increased level of unnecessary trips”.


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