Traffic and Quality Bus Corridors

Road traffic emissions are a major threat to air quality in urban areas. The most common air pollutants contained in traffic emissions are PM10 and N0x. Standards for car emissions and Government policy have produced cleaner individual vehicles, but the general increase in traffic on our roads has offset this. This pollution is most evident in cities with narrow streets and congestion problems.

Solution

If traffic-related air pollution reaches dangerous levels in cities then short-term traffic restrictions can be used to reduce the problem. Air quality management plans would also have to be considered by local authorities.

Long term solutions include placing air quality issues into traffic management and planning procedures. Also in Ireland there needs to be a shift from private vehicles to a high-quality public transport service.

Quality Bus Corridor (QBC) The introduction of quality bus corridors was a first step in making Dublin’s public transport service attractive for moving around the city. They give dedicated road space and traffic signal priority to the Dublin bus fleet. It is designed to make taking the bus more attractive, taking other vehicles off the roads and improving the city's overall air quality. The goal is to provide 400km of QBC, and by 2008 200km had already been put in place.

Luas: The Dublin Light Rail System is also a major initiative to get people out of there cars and onto public transport. The added bonus is that the Luas trams are powered by electricity. Figures indicate that 29.4 million passenger journeys were made in 2012, the highest ever level.

New Vehicle Label System: Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and annual motor tax for new cars registered on or after 1st July 2008 are now calculated on the basis of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from vehicles rather than engine size. Seven emission/tax bands have been created. The purpose of these changes is to encourage purchase of vehicles with lower CO2 emissions, an important step in reducing national greenhouse gas emissions and in meeting Ireland’s commitments for the purposes of the Kyoto Protocol.

Transport 21: Projects such as Metro North and further Luas line construction were designed to help create a fully integrated public transport system for Dublin, thus reducing emissions and air pollution. Due to economic decline the Transport 21 project was cancelled in May 2011, but it has been superseded by the National Transport Authority's Integrated Implementation Plan 2013-2018. Published in 2014, the plan identifies four key areas for investment:

  • Bus;
  • Light Rail, such as LUAS trains;
  • Heavy Rail, such as the proposed DART Underground:
  • Integration Measures and Sustainable Transport.

By investing in such key areas, it is envisaged that the overall goals of reduced emissions and pollution enshrined in Transport 21 will be achieved.


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