With the integration of the functions relating to national roads and public transport in the Department of Transport on the formation of the Government in June last, there is now scope for more effective and efficient allocation of departmental resources between both sectors. However, because of under-investment in the past, there will be ongoing need for significant investment both in roads and in public transport over the coming years. In response, the Government has been proactive through the NDP in providing for a major and sustained increase in investment in transport infrastructure and services and funding for the transport sector has been increased in the current year over last year. Major projects in both the roads and public transport areas are proceeding.
When considering the balance between investment in roads and public transport, it is important to bear in mind that roads are the predominant form of internal transport carrying 95% of passenger traffic and 93% of freight traffic and, accordingly, that a high quality road network is of critical importance in underpinning ongoing growth and development and more balanced regional development; that a good road network is necessary to support a good bus service which is the predominant form of public transport at present; that investment in the roads network, in addition to facilitating economic and social development, will provide substantial road safety dividends and an improved quality of life in many towns and villages; and that rail-based transport offers an attractive and environmentally friendly alternative to the bus and the car where mass movement is required in urban areas and over longer distances.
It will be clear from what I have said that our response to the growth in transport demand does not involve just building more roads. These are undoubtedly needed, but they are being provided in the context of an integrated approach to transport requirements, including also major improvements in public transport, improved traffic management, promotion of alternative modes, better co-ordination of transport and land use planning and, particularly in the greater Dublin area, the management of road transport demand.