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Project 2040 is good, but we need more for Ireland

Link Blog | February 22, 2018

Project Ireland 2040 Is Only a Start

With a growing economy, comes more employment and therefore comes clogged roads, which hampers the further growth of the economy. Anyone travelling around College Green lately will know about clogged roads, but it doesn’t have to be so! Transport is a topic I like to regularly return to, for the simple fact that if we don’t have a decent transport infrastructure, we can never fully compete with advanced economies in the longer term, attract the jobs we want in our country and enjoy the societal benefits that brings.

Transport is so important to an economy and a country. Housing costs, access to healthcare, family ties and business activity are all in some way reliant on a good transport system. People want to live within a reasonable commute of where they work, but with a less than optimal transport system that means commuting times are longer. This in turn means that demand for housing close to centres of employment becomes much more expensive. Thus the price of houses in Dublin City becomes prohibitively high for most people who have to live further and further away from Dublin in the “greater Dublin area”. People are forced to move away from their families and public services (like hospitals) because of the price of houses and when they get there they are faced with patchy timetables, squashed trains and buses, and long commutes. When the weekend eventually comes it’s unlikely they will want to face that commute and come in to Dublin to do their shopping!

This is bad for people already living here, but think of the firms considering a move to Dublin. How confident can they be, that if they set up in, say, Grand Canal Dock, they will a) have qualified staff who can easily commute to work and\or b) be able to pay staff enough that they can live within commutable distance while the company still makes a profit? International companies locating in Ireland often cite our educated population as one of the main motivating factors for setting up here, but that advantage is null and void if these talented people can’t or won’t travel to join the business. Businesses want to move to places where they can attract employees, and where their staff have a decent standard of living. A city and country which is found wanting in terms of connectivity risks being left behind.

There is some reason to be optimistic about cutting commutes. The National Development Plan, dubbed Project Ireland 2040 announced this month envisages billions of Euro in investment in public transport. Extension of the DART north and west, the inclusion of Metro Link and investments in bus infrastructure are all good news for commuters. These schemes should be put into operation immediately, but we can’t stop there. We have to make sure that we continue to invest in walking and cycling infrastructure, two increasingly popular modes of transport. We also have to address space on the roads in Dublin. As I said, with more employment comes traffic jams, but it doesn’t have to be so. If an improved public transport system doesn’t alleviate congestion in Dublin City we may have to look at a congestion charge or a ban on private cars in certain parts of the city.

When you think about it, a top class public transport infrastructure acts as a subsidy to businesses and workers. It makes life easier for everyone and allows the right people to access the jobs they are qualified to do. We may never have a perfect transport system, but as a society we can’t neglect the economic and social returns that emanate from having top class infrastructure. No one in Dublin should have to commute more than an hour or so to work in any other part of the city or county, and companies should have a reasonable expectation that when they take the risk of setting up a business that access to the people they need is not stymied by poor transport connectivity – If they don’t they will look elsewhere.


Cormac Spencer

Senior Consultant 

Link Personnel 

01 845 6312

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